Top 10 Favorite TV Shows of 2020

Top 10 Favorite TV Shows of 2020

In the challenging year of 2020, art and entertainment were crucial to keeping the mind entertained, engaged, and hopeful. With live theater and movie theaters closed for most of the year, television shows were more important than ever in providing quality art and entertainment.

Fortunately, many shows finished filming before the shutdowns caused by the pandemic, and 2020 ended up featuring a strong range of shows across the many networks and streaming platforms out there. Of the shows that I watched, these were my favorites of the year. These are not necessarily the best shows of the year, but they are the ones that I enjoyed the most, and the ones that stayed with me.

Warning: There are SPOILERS in some of the entries below.

10. The Umbrella Academy (Season 2)

The second season of The Umbrella Academy was an overall fun ride that answered many lingering questions while raising new mysteries as well. It provided some delightful sibling dynamics that weren’t featured in the first season, such as the dynamic between Klaus and Allison. Characters like Vanya and Ben were fleshed out further as fans got to see new sides of them in ways that were amusing and incredibly emotional. While further developing the children of the Umbrella Academy and the enigmatic Reginald Hargreeves, some compelling new characters were added. The best addition was Lila, who added more mystery, suspense, and humor to the show, all while deepening the show’s fantastical backstory. Like the first season, this season also had an unbeatable soundtrack that always fit the mood of the show.

Despite these strengths, there were some elements that felt like a retread of the first season. Even though she was shot in the head at the end of the last season, the Handler was once again a primary antagonist and even though they time travelled to 1963, the Umbrella Academy yet again had to prevent the apocalypse from happening. It was also a bit disappointing to be denied more of the adorable Hazel and Agnes romance. Hazel had a line or two about what happened to Agnes and he provided some important exposition before being killed off.

9. Money Heist (Season 4)

The ambitious Bank of Spain heist continued in another thrilling and suspenseful season of Money Heist. Things spun out of control like never before with Lisbon held captive by the authorities, Palermo unleashing mayhem within the Bank of Spain, and one of the show’s best characters–Nairobi–was brutally murdered. Nairobi’s death was a bold move that raised the stakes and the potential consequences the characters face, yet it also felt like an undeserving end for such a fierce and complex individual. It also felt like she wasn’t able to own her death in the same way Berlin did when he went out in a blaze of glory.

Yet, in the face of insurmountable chaos and tragedy, the Professor and the rest of the characters proved their resilience. The heist became much bigger than them, leading to an ending that is both uplifting and foreboding as it sets up the epic final season.

8. Westworld (Season 3)

Seasons 1 and 2 of Westworld were absolutely brilliant. Season 3 was more of a mixed bag, but it was still wildly entertaining. The audience finally got to see the outside world in all of its glory, which had many disturbing parallels to Westworld and the other parks at Delos Destinations. The season did Dolores and the multiple versions of her justice. Dolores’ complex journey culminated in satisfying fashion while the version of her played by Tessa Thompson underwent a darker transformation. Aaron Paul and Vincent Cassel were excellent additions to the cast. Cassel did a masterful job playing the ruthless Engerraund Serac while Paul brought the blue-collar Caleb Nichols to life, a human with many fascinating parallels to Dolores.

While season 3 did well with Dolores and its new characters, it fell short with some of the main characters from previous seasons. Thandie Newton did an incredible job bringing Maeve to life again, but Maeve’s motives feel more contrived and less genuine than in the past. Jeffrey Wright and Ed Harris also did a great job portraying Bernard and William, but despite being main characters, their storylines were sidelined for much of the season, though the series finale teased they will once again take center-stage in season 4.

7. The Undoing (Season 1)

Nicole Kidman, Hugh Grant, Donald Sutherland, and Noma Dumezweni lead a stellar cast in this limited series that is a masterclass in building suspense. Practically every scene created palpable tension and made the viewer’s heart race, eagerly wanting to see what happens next while simultaneously feeling anxious about what is about to unfold.

This show is not a shocking “whodunit.” Instead, it is a suspenseful, character-driven exploration on the psychological toll of toxic relationships, while also delving into issues of socioeconomic injustice.

6. Upload (Season 1)

Upload was a surprisingly thought-provoking series. The series explored the consequences of the digital divide as these socioeconomic barriers affect both the living and those in the digital afterlife. It’s heartfelt and amusing without being a laugh-out-loud comedy.

Characters who initially feel like caricatures become more nuanced over the course of the first season. There is clever world-building and an intriguing overarching mystery that leaves the audience desperate for another season.

5. His Dark Materials (Season 2)

As a longtime fan of the His Dark Materials books, it was thrilling to see The Subtle Knife finally adapted onscreen. Season 2 continued to be an overall faithful adaptation to the brilliant source material. Seeing some of the book’s best and most emotional scenes brought to life onscreen after imagining them in my mind for years was a surreal experience. Any changes that were made–such as adding in the interrogation scene between Mrs. Coulter and Lee Scoresby–only helped enrich character development and the overall narrative.

With the main characters now travelling between different worlds, the story, its themes, and its philosophical questions felt more open and complex than compared to the first season. The suspense built with every episode, culminating in a season finale that somehow felt both tragic and uplifting, paving the way for an epic final season that will adapt The Amber Spyglass. Lyra and Will’s chemistry and connection felt genuine, Simone Kirby’s warmth and fierce intelligence made her the perfect Mary Malone, and Ruth Wilson continued to slay as Mrs. Coulter in every single scene.

4. Little Fires Everywhere (Season 1)

Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon were captivating to watch as they delivered some of the best performances of 2020. This adaption of Celeste Ng’s novel explored the consequences of unresolved trauma and the burden of regret. As shown through the journeys of Washington’s character Mia Warren and Reese Witherspoon’s Elena Richardson, these things don’t magically go away; they fester and have the potential to consume a person’s identity and their most important relationships.

Little Fires Everywhere also dealt with important themes related to the power of art, socioeconomic divide, microaggressions, and motherhood. While Mia Warren and Elena Richardson are the backbone of the story, the younger characters are also quite compelling, particularly in Megan Stott’s heart-wrenching portrayal of Izzy Richardson.

3. Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Season 7)

The Siege of Mandalore is some of the best storytelling Star Wars has ever done. Those episodes were epic, heartbreaking, and stunning to behold, all while honoring the gradual character development of Ahsoka Tano, Captain Rex, and Maul. The Siege of Mandalore was a perfect conclusion to this ambitious series.

The other arcs in the final season were good, but not good enough to make The Clone Wars the favorite show of 2020. The Bad Batch arc had some great moments, most notably those involving Anakin Skywalker and Echo. The middle arc provided crucial character development for Ahsoka after leaving the Jedi Order and prior to her role in the Siege of Mandalore, although the arc did feel a bit repetitive and drawn out at certain points. A return to peak Star Wars animation and seeing the Siege of Mandalore unfold still puts it among the best shows of 2020.

2. The Mandalorian (Season 2)

Season 2 of The Mandalorian was even stronger than the first season. Iconic characters like Bo-Katan Kryze, Ahsoka Tano, Boba Fett, and even Luke Skywalker were seamlessly incorporated into the narrative in ways that challenged Din Djarin’s beliefs and strengthened the relationship between Din and Baby Yoda (Grogu).

Every single episode seemed to be bigger and better than the one that came before it. Through all of this, the touching relationship between Din Djarin and Grogu remained the heart of the show, as did Din’s gradual character development.

1. The Good Place (Season 4)

The final episodes of The Good Place aired in January 2020 and they provided a near-perfect ending to this thought-provoking, clever, and hilarious series. Almost every main character had an ending that was perfectly tailored to their respective journeys while providing closure.

The series finale was a whirlwind of emotions that ultimately leaves the audience feeling hopeful and at peace. It was one of the best series finales I have ever seen, coming at the end of what is definitely a top 5 all-time favorite show of mine.

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What was your favorite show of 2020? Let me know in the comments!

Deckard’s Arc of Villainy And Redemption In ‘Blade Runner’ And ‘Blade Runner 2049’

Deckard’s Arc of Villainy And Redemption In ‘Blade Runner’ And ‘Blade Runner 2049’

In the 1970s and ’80s, Harrison Ford brought to life three of the most iconic characters in cinematic history: Han Solo, Indiana Jones and Rick Deckard. With The Force Awakens in 2015, Blade Runner 2049 and a fifth Indiana Jones on theay, Ford provides a rich continuation of all three characters, answering many of the burning questions left in the final moments of the original movies from the ’70s and ’80s. All of his characters remain highly influential to this day, but Deckard is arguably the most complex and hotly debated of these individuals.

Fortunately, Blade Runner 2049 succeeds at incorporating Deckard in meaningful ways that didn’t overshadow the newer characters and story of the sequel. The recent release and intriguing direction the filmmakers take the character into offers the perfect opportunity to reexamine Deckard’s arc in the original film and now its sequel. Despite initially establishing Deckard as the main protagonist in Blade Runner, Deckard’s actions are cold and emotionless for much of the film. The moment where he shows the most emotion is a horrific one.

Warning: Major spoilers for Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049 ahead.

Deckard and Rachael
Deckard and Rachael in ‘Blade Runner’ [Credit: Warner Bros.]
There is perhaps no crime worse than sexual assault, yet the supposed protagonist Deckard is guilty of this as he expresses disturbing lust and a toxic desire for control. Moreover, Deckard sexually assaults Rachael, a woman who saved his life and seeks solace as she grapples with the revelation of her Replicant identity. After kissing Rachael, she attempts to leave his apartment, but he blocks her exit, slams her against a wall and kisses her again. He then forces her to say things like “Kiss me” and “I want you” despite her protests.

Deckard’s largely emotionless attitude has helped fuel the debate that he is Replicant rather than human, but it is more fascinating to believe Deckard is human and that his cold actions actually make him the original film’s true villain. Blade Runner 2049 does not nullify his villainy, yet rather builds on it before launching Deckard on a path of redemption.

Why Deckard Is The True Villain Of Blade Runner

Blade Runner opens by framing Deckard as the film’s main protagonist. After witnessing the Replicant Leon’s destructive actions when tested, Deckard receives his call to action when tasked with hunting down and “retiring” Leon and the other escaped Replicants. Given these actions and the exposition about the Replicants, it’s easy to believe Deckard is the hero and the Replicants are the villains, with their leader Roy Batty as the primary antagonist.

Roy Batty like tears in rain
Rutger Hauer as Roy Batty [Credit: Warner Bros.]
However, despite being remembered but as an iconic cinematic villain, Roy is actually not the antagonist of the film. Roy wants to live longer because he embraces life and wants to live it freely. He seeks out his maker Eldon Tyrell as a son seeking out a father for answers and comfort, but Tyrell gives him neither. Regardless of the compliments he pays Roy, Tyrell still views him as a machine with an expiry date and nothing more. Many thus argue that Tyrell is the real villain of the film even though he only appears in two scenes and doesn’t perform many meaningful actions. By creating the Replicant technology and incorporating it as he did into society, Tyrell is largely responsible for generating the underlining problems that drive the existence of Replicants like Roy and humans like Deckard. However, Tyrell is never made to confront the other characters in a dramatic scene and so his status as the real villain is only implied.

A villain is defined by their most evil moments and the motives that drive them. In that respect, two aspects are particularly disturbing, as they portray Roy and Deckard doing things that makes them worthy of a villain flag. The first is when Roy brutally kills Tyrell. The second is when Deckard sexually assaults Rachael. As already established, Roy murdering Tyrell is rather justified, which leaves the most villainous moment of the story to Deckard. Up to this point in the film, Deckard shows little emotion or care about anything. When a distressed Rachael confronts him about being a Replicant, he reacts cruelly and then treats the situation like a joke. When Leon attacks him, Rachael saves his life by shooting and killing Leon.

Deckard shows his thanks in the form of forcing himself upon Rachael, the same person who just saved his life. Despite the humanity shown by Rachael, Deckard continues to ruthlessly hunt down and kill the remaining Replicants, only ceasing when Roy saves his life and chooses to stop fighting while delivering the thought-provoking “tears in rain” monologue. Roy and his team of Replicants are manipulative and commit their share of questionable acts, but all their actions are defined by their thirst for life, as opposed to the emptiness of Deckard and the acts he commits, making him the true villain.

How Deckard Begins To Find Redemption In Blade Runner 2049

Harrison Ford as Deckard in Blade Runner 2049
Harrison Ford as Deckard in ‘Blade Runner 2049’ [Credit: Warner Bros.]
Given the span of time that’s lapsed both in reality and within the fictional worlds of Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049, there were endless possibilities of how to handle the return of Deckard. From his first appearance in Blade Runner 2049, Deckard conveys more humanity than the character showed 30 years ago. He quotes Treasure Island and engages in a brief conversation about literature and K’s motives before firing a weapon. Even though Deckard believes K is there to kill him, Deckard shows intellect, curiosity and a wry sense of humor, traits that were absent in the days of shooting Replicants in the back.

Deckard fights and tries to kill K but stops when he realizes K is not there to kill, capture or hurt him. Deckard doesn’t know who K is and K mistakenly believes Deckard is his father. Despite the misconceptions, their conversation over whiskey plays out like a long-lost father and son meeting for the first time, cautiously gauging each other out. Audiences learn of the steps Deckard took to protect the child he had with Rachael, even parting from her and the child despite having to live in ignorance of their fates.

K in Blade Runner 2049
Ryan Gosling as K in ‘Blade Runner 2049’ [Credit: Warner Bros.]
Deckard’s path to redemption continues when he’s kidnapped and faces Niander Wallace. The creepy character attempts to extricate the whereabouts and true nature of Deckard and Rachael’s child. Wallace tempts Deckard with a Replicant identical to Rachael from the original Blade Runner (arguably the most stunning CGI accomplishment in aging/de-aging a character in cinematic history). After gazing at her longingly, Deckard rejects Wallace’s offer with a gruff “Her eyes were green.” His resistance shows courage and a moral code unlike anything demonstrated 30 years ago.

Furthering his redemption, Deckard saves K’s life after K saves him. Deckard then has the opportunity to meet his daughter, offering a kind of humanity he’s never known but finally earned through his steps toward redemption.

The villainous actions from the original Blade Runner aren’t nullified in the sequel, but Deckard’s development does fulfill an arc of an unlikely villain beginning to find redemption.

What are your thoughts on this analysis of Deckard’s character? Share your opinion in the comments below.

***This article was originally posted on the website Movie Pilot on October 11, 2017.

If you liked this article, check out my other articles on Screen Rant, FanSided Entertainment, and Dork Side of the Force.

Top 10 Favorite Movies of 2019

Top 10 Favorite Movies of 2019

Whenever a year nears its end, it’s time to look back on the movies that resonated the most. This article focuses on my Top 10 favorite films released in 2019. These are not necessarily the best films of the year, but they are the ones I enjoyed most, ones that stayed with me and I’d happily re-watch in an instant.

***Warning: This article contains some spoilers about the following films.

10. A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood does a wonderful job at capturing what made Mr. Rogers such an incredible person. The scenes where he listens to journalist Lloyd Vogel or any other character are particularly compelling. Hanks portrays Mr. Rogers in a way that makes it’s clear he’s giving his undivided attention. He’s actually listening, doing everything in his power to understand others and fully engage with them. This may seem like a small thing, but it’s become rarer every day and it’s so powerful and important, something Hanks clearly conveys in his performance.

Mr. Rogers speaks about giving the world positive ways to deal with their feelings. It is essential that people recognize their feelings–the good, the bad, and the ugly–and find ways to deal with them. Emotions are valid, but more important are the ways people choose to deal with them.

The only real flaw of this movie is that Matthew Rhys is not always convincing as jaded journalist Lloyd Vogel. At times this becomes a distraction as so much of the story rests on Lloyd and the audience’s investment in him.

Overall this doesn’t detract much from a heartwarming film communicating simple, yet powerful themes.

9. Knives Out

Rian Johnson’s distinctive style as a filmmaker brings to life a whodunnit that feels like both a classic and refreshing take on the mystery genre. It’s got all the staples of a whodunnit, but with enough unique touches to make it a truly memorable film. Johnson’s cinematography and the costumes are gorgeous to behold.

Ana de Armas makes Marta Cabrera a nuanced and riveting protagonist. She makes the character sympathetic and compassionate, while also showcasing her smarts, determination, unwavering moral compass, and a keen sense of self-preservation. The rest of the characters are essentially caricatures, but it works as they’re perfect fits for classic characters within the whodunnit and they serve the needs of the story. When these characters are also played by the likes of Daniel Craig, Jamie Lee Curtis, Chris Evans, and Michael Shannon, it’s easier to buy into these larger-than-life characters.

Tackling issues like ageism, classism, and the current political climate are among the touches that elevate this film from others in the genre. The elderly “Great Nana” is overlooked because of her age, yet she holds an essential clue the entire time. A quiet scene between her and Daniel Craig’s detective character Benoit Blanc is one of the best in the entire film. He begins by offering condolences for her son’s death, noting how sorry he is to probably be the first one to offer such comfort. He is patient and respectful of her and by treating her like an actual human being, he receives key information that helps uncover the truth behind the mystery.

The tension between Marta and the Thrombey family explores classism and the current political climate. The Thrombey family see themselves as charitable and compassionate for offering to give Marta part of the inheritance, claiming that she’s like family to them. When Marta receives all the inheritance and they receive nothing, though, they turn on her completely. They cannot abide the idea that a lower-class immigrant has the money they’ve felt entitled to their entire lives. Threatening to expose Marta’s mother–who is in the country illegally–is another statement in itself. The Thrombeys had no issue with this knowledge while Marta was helping their family, but the moment she becomes an obstacle to their wealth and social status, they have no qualms about destroying the Cabrera family. This makes the final scene in the film–Marta drinking from Walter Thrombey’s mug from the mansion balcony as she looks down at the Thrombey descendants–all the more satisfying.

Some of the plot twists in the film are a bit predictable and as such can feel disappointing, but ultimately this matters little compared to all the wonderful things the movie achieves.

8. Doctor Sleep

I’m not a superfan of The Shining. I saw the movie once and enjoyed it, but have never read the book, nor have I become enraptured by it as so many have. It was therefore to my great surprise that I became so enamored with the sequel Doctor Sleep.

Sequels of iconic stories often struggle to do anything new and instead just rely on nostalgia and callbacks to the things people loved so much from the first story. Part of what impressed me about Doctor Sleep is that overall it doesn’t fall into this tempting trap.

It tells its own story and does new things, all while expanding the world-building established in The Shining. The adult Danny Torrance feels like a fully fleshed out character. Struggling with and eventually conquering his literal and figurative inner demons feels relatable to anyone who’s experienced significant conflict within themselves. The scenes in hospice where he uses his ability to ease the passing of others are all at once touching, bittersweet, and liberating. It’s a testament to his character’s growth and is played well by Ewan McGregor.

The true heart of the film manifests in the relationship Danny forms with Abra. Kyleigh Curran does a wonderful job playing the eager, clever, powerful girl who finds an unlikely friend and mentor in Danny.

Rose the Hat and the rest of her crew serve as terrifying villains worthy of a Stephen King story. Their whole existence and their mission builds upon what we knew of The Shining world in new and fascinating ways. The scene where Rose tries to invade Abra’s mind is particularly intriguing; the visual representation of Abra’s unexpected retaliation and how she forces Rose out of her mind is both unsettling and beautiful.

With this and so much more, Doctor Sleep does more than enough of its own thing before the story inevitably returns to the iconic setting–the Overlook Hotel–for Danny and Abra’s final confrontation with Rose.

Both Danny and Abra lose characters that are close to them in devastating fashion, but the movie doesn’t really give them time to grapple with these losses. It’s an unfortunate thing that happens in a lot of movies, though it’s disappointing to happen in a movie that does so many other things so well.

Now I want to read both The Shining and Doctor Sleep and to dive much deeper into this universe.

7. Captain Marvel

Captain Marvel is fantastic, except for its choppy beginning. The first 10-15 minutes cram in way too much information about Kree society, the Supreme Intelligence, the Skrulls, and Carol’s relationship with Yon-Rogg. As a result, audiences barely have time to get their bearings.

Once she crash-lands on Earth, the movie finds its footing and is a fun ride. Brie Larson’s sarcastic, compassionate, fierce portrayal of Carol Danvers makes her a treat to watch. There’s instant chemistry between her and Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury, which makes it easy to be invested in their friendship and alliance.

As Talos, Ben Mendelsohn steals every scene he’s in and makes the Skrulls plot twist feel authentic rather than forced. That plot twist is one of the best in the entire MCU, one that is game-changing not only for Captain Marvel but for countless future films, as already evidenced by Spider-Man: Far From Home.

The sequence with all the flashbacks of Carol getting knocked down and then rising back up is empowering to behold, as is her telling Yon-Rogg that she owes him nothing. It took way too long for the MCU to have a female superhero leading her own story, but when they finally did it, they did it right.

Captain Marvel is not just a fun and empowering origin story. It also becomes a fitting prequel for the Avengers and most of the MCU.

6. El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie

The Breaking Bad series finale is a perfect culmination of Walter White’s story. Yet, in many ways the show belonged to Jesse Pinkman just as much as it did to Walter White.  El Camino is a proper finale to Jesse’s story as Aaron Paul delivers one of the best performances of his career. It provides closure while also serving as a genuine exploration of trauma.

The flashbacks between Jesse and Todd are particularly unnerving to watch. Jesse Plemons captures the essence of what made Todd such a bizarre and memorable character, an endearing psychopath whose every action is unpredictable. The amount of focus on Todd’s character is unexpected, though it works perfectly as Jesse copes with his trauma and tries to move forward.

Todd is far from the only satisfying cameo in El Camino. Jesse gets to see his old friends Badger and Skinny Pete one last time. As irresponsible as they could be, them helping Jesse demonstrates the authenticity of their friendship, and Skinny Pete’s line about Jesse being his hero is a genuinely touching moment. Jesse tricks his parents so he can get a gun, but at least the phone call gives closure on both sides. The flashbacks with Mike, Jane, and Walt are even more satisfying as they helped shape Jesse more than anyone and it is their influence that now guides him to his final choices and a fresh start.

El Camino is slower-paced and more ruminative than the regular Breaking Bad episode. It may take a little getting used to, but it works well as Walt received an ending befitting of his journey, and now Jesse gets an ending that his befitting of his journey, one that is surprisingly hopeful and refreshing.

5. Joker

This movie works so well because it’s not really about the Joker’s origins; it’s really an exploration of society neglecting and mistreating the mentally ill. Arthur Fleck is grappling with severe mental illness, yet practically no one shows him kindness or actually tries to help.

From the guys on the street who steal his sign at the beginning of the movie and beat him with it, to the guys harassing the woman on the subway, to the famous Murray Franklin himself, he is physically and emotionally assaulted throughout the movie. His mentally ill mother only makes his condition worse, as does the revelation of how abuse was deeply rooted in his childhood.

Arthur is receiving some help and medication from a social worker, but she is overworked and has limited resources, and it’s not long before budget cuts end her sessions with Arthur and prevent him from getting the medication he needs.

The commentary in this film is more relevant than ever as it showcases the dangers of a society that lacks compassion and that deepens the divide between rich and poor as the middle class is erased. Real problems are ignored as the wealthy elite like Thomas Wayne line their pockets. Murray Franklin and other characters are shocked when Arthur explodes, but what were they expecting after tormenting such a troubled person?

The film also does a nice job at using ambiguity, from not showing what happens after Arthur realizes the devastating truth about him and Sophie, to the final scene at the mental hospital.

The only issue with this movie is that the inclusion of a young Bruce Wayne feels a bit shoehorned in, including the fact that the Joker is essentially responsible for his parents being gunned down in an alleyway. It feels like forced setup in what is otherwise a perfect standalone film.

4. Spider-Man: Far From Home

Movies don’t often give fans time to grapple with the death of a beloved character. That is one of the strengths of Spider-Man: Far From Home as it gives audiences time to further grapple with Tony Stark’s death and what it means for the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The movie serves many purposes as it becomes an epilogue to Avengers: Endgame and the entire MCU so far, setup for the MCU’s future, and a perfect continuation of Tom Holland’s Spider-Man story.

The hole Tony left behind is enormous and the movie doesn’t shy away from that as it defines much of Peter’s struggle in the movie. Tom Holland is charming as ever and his awkward, cute chemistry with MJ–played by Zendaya–is a treat to watch. Fortunately she gets a lot more to do in this movie than she did in Homecoming. Jon Favreau is a scene-stealer as Happy Hogan and essential to helping Peter navigate a world without Tony Stark.

Quentin Beck/Mysterio earns his place among the best villains of the MCU because he feels relatable and human. He’s a mistreated employee who’s received no recognition for his work. Even though pretty much everyone knew he was going to be the villain, Jake Gyllenhaal presents such a likable performance that we’re already invested in him by the time he’s finally revealed to be the antagonist. His reliance on illusion and twisting reality is trippy and forces the audience to constantly question everything that is happening.

The post-credits scenes are among the best in the MCU as well. They’re genuinely shocking and make you reevaluate the whole movie you just watched, which fits perfectly with the story’s whole approach of making the audience question the reality of what they’re seeing.

All these elements make Spider-Man: Far From Home a heartfelt, hilarious, mind-bending, action-packed adventure and one of the best films of 2019.

3. Us

2017’s Get Out was a cinematic experience unlike any other. Despite setting the bar so high, Jordan Peele managed to create another masterpiece in the form of Us. The thought-provoking nature and commitment to tackling deeper issues is what elevates Peele’s films far above others in the genre.

The whole concept of the Tethered and people’s struggles to confront them is representative of our country’s inability to confront our past of oppression. It is also representative of the idea that all privilege comes at the expense of others’ suffering. While that’s something that is objectively known, no one wants to experience coming face-to-face with those they’ve made suffer in the name of privilege. Within this is an exploration of identity and how we define ourselves.

Executing these weighty themes in a way that feels earned largely hinges on Lupita Nyong’o as she delivers arguably the best performance of 2019 as both Adelaide and Red. She’s entirely convincing in her portrayal of both characters, adding touches that make them both distinctively different, yet undeniably connected. It’s because of her incredible acting that audiences can buy into the game-changing twist about Adelaide and Red at the end of the film.

Everything that happens from start to finish allows this movie to meet its potential. The movie’s opening scene is unsettling and ambiguous. It sets the tone for the entire film and it isn’t clear what it means until the end when everything is brought full-circle. After the opening scene, ample time is provided for the audience to get to know Adelaide and her family before the creepiness ensues. It’s essential that the audience understands adult Adelaide and the dynamics of her family before s*** hits the fan. What follows is deeply unsettling–more so than Get Out and with less humor–but it’s equally compelling to watch as it explores thought-provoking questions in a way that never feels as though it’s insulting the audience’s intelligence.

With a second masterpiece under his belt, Jordan Peele has established himself as one of the most exciting filmmakers in the film industry. It’s refreshing to see a filmmaker take substantial risks and see those risks pay off in brilliant fashion.

2. Toy Story 4

Toy Story 3 is a perfect film and seemed like a worthy end to the Toy Story franchise. As such, I couldn’t help feeling a bit wary about Toy Story 4, though I tried to be open-minded and place my faith in Pixar and a series that had yet to let me down. Fortunately my faith was rewarded with an excellent film that in true Pixar fashion resonates with both kids and adults.

I wrote about this in more detail after I first saw the movie, but I’ll reiterate some of the highlights within those thoughts about why the movie works so well. The simplest of these highlights is that it’s the funniest Toy Story yet. Almost all the new characters provide their own unique comedy. It’s not just Forky, as other characters like Duke Caboom, Ducky, and Bunny are also hilarious. There’s also wonderful humor with Woody and Buzz talking about their inner voices and how Buzz consults his “inner voice” throughout the movie. The toys’ schemes to get reunited and prevent the RV from leaving also leave you laughing hysterically.

Beyond the humor, longtime characters like Woody and Bo Peep receive the endings that they deserve. The movie is a testament to the growth of both characters. For both of them it has to do with gaining agency and finding self-worth beyond how others perceive them.

This connects to Woody, Forky, and Gabby Gabby all struggling with questions of self-perception versus how others perceive them. These are moving and important questions that many audiences will find relatable.

Despite following in the footsteps of a perfect film, Toy Story 4 is able to be an outstanding film in its own right that entertains all ages, conveys meaningful messages, and furthers the franchise for the better.

1. Avengers: Endgame

This movie is tied to me getting engaged and that will always make it a favorite of mine.

Getting into why I loved the actual movie, though, requires a look back at its predecessor. Avengers: Infinity War ended by killing half the universe in one fell swoop and with the villain victorious. It was a bold ending and one that would be hard to follow up. Avengers: Endgame was up to the challenge, though, providing an emotionally satisfying conclusion to the Infinity Saga and making some bold choices of its own.

Killing Thanos about 20 minutes into the movie is one of those choices. Slaying the villain is so often the solution in superhero films, but what happens when you kill the villain and it fixes nothing?

Instead of rushing to the part where the Avengers overcome this obstacle and get all their friends back, the movie actually spends a decent amount of time exploring the world after Thanos’s Snap. The 5 year time jump is a smart move that allows the audience to see how the world has progressed since the Snap, from the everyday folk in Captain America’s support group to the surviving heroes themselves.

This allows the audience to feel the hopelessness and that some have even made peace with the world Thanos created. This includes Thor’s surprising arc in Endgame, one that many fans failed to realize is not about fat jokes, but about someone struggling to deal with trauma, the loss of almost everyone they loved, and an identity crisis after being a hero who failed to save the universe. By giving the audience time to experience this world, the far-reaching impacts of the Snap are felt and the decision to try and undo it feels earned. 

The time travel heist that follows is a love letter to the MCU. It ends up working so well because of the little character moments, from Thor getting a proper goodbye with his mother Frigga, to Tony having an unexpected heart-to-heart with his father Howard, or the moment of connection between Nebula and Rhodey after she burns her hand.

The whole movie works because it’s character-driven. It culminates the relationship between Tony Stark and Captain America and gives them emotional and impactful endings that serves their character development. It’s a proper sendoff for much of the old guard as the new guard is ushered in.

“I love you 3000” and the portal scene are forever embedded into popular culture. Endgame isn’t perfect–I still take issue with the fact that characters like Okoye and Wong survived the Snap but weren’t utilized until the battle at the end–but overall it’s an emotional and epic culmination to a decade’s worth of storytelling in the wonderful Marvel Cinematic Universe.

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What were your favorite movies of 2019? Let me know in the comments!

If you enjoyed my writing here, check out my work for Screen Rant, Dork Side of the Force, and FanSided Entertainment.

Top 10 Favorite Movies Of 2018

Top 10 Favorite Movies Of 2018

With 2018 almost in the books, it’s time to reflect on some of the movies that stood out the most and left the biggest impact. This article focuses on my Top 10 favorite films of 2018. These are not necessarily the best films of the year, but they are the ones I enjoyed most, ones that stayed with me and I’d happily re-watch in an instant.

***Warning: This article contains light spoilers about the following films.

10. Christopher Robin

While Christopher Robin certainly follows the common trope of an overly serious adult rediscovering his inner child and the importance of family, the film also achieves a unique tone that elevates it above the tropes. This is partly accomplished through the movie’s overarching lesson. Pooh says, “Sometimes doing nothing leads to the best of something.” The movie brings this message to life by showing how Christopher Robin learns to use his imagination again and focus on the things that really matter.

In a world that constantly encourages people to keep constantly busy–never letting a moment go to waste or be unproductive–this lesson is more important than ever. The movie brims with additional seemingly simplistic, yet profound lessons. “I always get to where I’m going by walking away from where I’ve been,” says Pooh, a beautiful way of capturing the importance of living in the present.

There are certainly funny moments, but also uplifting and even a couple genuinely sad moments. It’s an effective blend and surprisingly mature for a story about Winnie the Pooh characters. Some folks were highly critical of the aesthetic used for Pooh and his friends, but it actually works quite well for a live-action adaptation in a world of somewhat muted colors. Pooh and company look a bit frayed, showing that Christopher isn’t the only one who’s changed over the years. Also, Ewan McGregor is a phenomenal actor and does an excellent job of portraying Christopher Robin and his character development.

9. BlackKklansman

BlackKklansman tells an incredible true story in a way that is powerful, intense, and at certain points humorous. It it easily one of the best films directed by Spike Lee in years. John David Washington and Adam Driver quickly establish a natural dynamic. Their performances demonstrate how Driver is one of the best actors out there–nailing every facet of a character completely different than Kylo Ren–and that Washington is one of Hollywood’s brightest rising stars.

The film does a beautiful job showing how there is no hierarchy of oppression. Much of the danger presented by the Klu Klux Klan comes from their widespread violent hatred directed at so many different groups of people. Driver’s character Flip Zimmerman is forced to confront that when he realizes that even as a fairly non-religious Jew, the KKK hates his true identity just as much as they’d hate a Black man. It’s important to defend the culture and heritage of yourself and others in the face of blind and dangerous hatred.

The one overarching issue of the film is that it somewhat oversimplifies a complex narrative. Sorry to Bother You director Boots Riley was at the forefront of this criticism, highlighting that it’s an oversimplified and false narrative that practically all cops are allies in the fight against racism. This is a dangerous narrative in a time where police brutality and prejudice is integral to the systematic racism that still exists.

This certainly doesn’t ruin the movie or take away from the remarkable story or outstanding acting, but it does cause it to be a little lower on this top 10 list.

8. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is arguably the purest comic book movie to ever be made. The overall aesthetic and stunning animation style feels like it’s been lifted straight from the pages of a comic book. The film also brings to life many of the best Spider-Man characters and storylines to ever exist in the comics, many of which more casual audiences were unfamiliar with before seeing the movie.

While Peter Parker does play a significant role in the film, it’s a wise choice to have the story truly revolve around Miles Morales. Fans of the comics have loved this character for a while, and it’s about time he was brought to the big screen.

Kids and adults can equally enjoy this movie. A great example of this is in the film’s humor. Kids quite simply will find Spider-Ham hilarious since he’s a talking pig. Adults can find delightful humor in the fact that Spider-Man Noir is fascinated by a Rubik’s Cube because he comes from a universe where he can only see black and white.

The one downside to this approach is that there is sometimes an inconsistent tone to the movie. Slapstick humor catering to the younger audience is overdone when Miles first discovers his powers, but there’s some truly dark and mature themes concerning the backstory of Wilson Fisk and the shocking reveal of the Prowler’s identity.

While there are quite a few villains to contend with in the movie, the film also provides surprising maturity with the fact that the true antagonistic forces are the characters’ insecurities. These insecurities are more crippling to Miles and the Peter Parker from another universe than any of the actual villains they face. Their true character growth occurs when they overcome their insecurities, not when they defeat the bad guys. Even Fisk is defined by his insecurities as he fails to accept that it’s not any Spider-Man but himself who is truly responsible for the deaths of his family.

7. Ant-Man and the Wasp

In a year when the Marvel Cinematic Universe had already released the smash hits Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War, Ant-Man and the Wasp was sadly overshadowed. It’s a shame because Ant-Man and the Wasp is both a superb superhero film and sequel. Hope van Dyne receives the spotlight she deserves as the Wasp.

Evangeline Lilly and Paul Rudd share a natural chemistry that makes all scenes between Ant-Man and Wasp a delight to watch. Their performances, the script, and so much else makes it one of the funniest MCU movies to date. There is also a tremendous amount of heart to this story, especially concerning the relationship between Scott and his daughter Cassie. Supporting characters from the first film like Cassie and Luis take on bigger roles. They make contributions to the story and feel more like fully formed characters rather than just serving as comic relief or as the source of the protagonist’s motivations.

Even though for the most part the movie tells its own story, the movie does provide some essential contributions to the larger MCU. One of these is that it makes the Sokovia Accords truly matter again for the first time since Captain America: Civil War. The post-credits scenes also offer some powerful connections as it provides the first glimpse of how the devastating end of Avengers: Infinity War affected the world beyond what fans already knew. It also set up the essential role Ant-Man will play in Avengers: Endgame.

One way in which the movie struggles is with its villains. With Killmonger, Thanos, Vulture, and many others in recent installments, the MCU has been killing it with their villains lately. This was no the case in Ant-Man and the Wasp. There is no central antagonist. They go with a few different ones, but none end up being that effective. Considering so much of the story revolved around her fate and rescue, it was also a bit of a disappointment that there wasn’t more of Janet van Dyne in the film, especially considering she was played by the likes of Michelle Pfeiffer.

6. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

Without a doubt, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald has many flaws. That being said, it hits the #6 spot on this list because it is still a highly enjoyable film and in certain respects further enriches the Potterverse. It’s always a delight to return to this magical world and it’s fascinating to gain further insight into in a time period and locations that haven’t received much exposure before.

Eddie Redmayne continues to nail his nuanced performance as Newt Scamander, an unconventional and refreshing protagonist. He has wonderful chemistry with some of his cast mates, particularly Dan Fogler and his character Jacob Kowalski. Some fascinating new characters were added to the Potterverse, particularly Leta Lestrange who also had fantastic chemistry with Newt and quickly made audiences invested in her. There are wonderful Easter Eggs like a glimpse of the Philosopher’s Stone in Nicolas Flamel’s home.

The movie fails to meet its potential, though, because of two glaring problems. The first is that Johnny Depp is never charismatic or believable enough as Gellert Grindelwald, something which negatively affects other aspects of the movie like the arc of Queenie Goldstein. The other issue is that the movie spends way too much time trying to set up future installments and character arcs, and not enough time focusing on the story and characters at hand. For more of my thoughts, read the official review I wrote for FanSided!

5. The Leisure Seeker

It is truly a shame that The Leisure Seeker didn’t get more attention as it is a phenomenal film. Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland are at their very best in these roles, sharing a natural chemistry and bringing nuanced older adults to life on the big screen. Their outstanding performances offer a ride that is all at once touching, hilarious, uplifting, and at times deeply sad.

There are not enough depictions of complex older adult characters in entertainment, making it all the more refreshing to see Mirren and Sutherland making their characters a reality. The ending is neither uplifting nor depressing, but instead incredibly bittersweet. The movie doesn’t settle for a simplistic “Live life to the fullest and everything will work out” mentality.

The only downside in an otherwise fantastic movie is that there’s a plot twist that doesn’t feel quite earned and instead feels like a forced attempt at adding some unnecessary drama.

4. Solo: A Star Wars Story

Solo: A Star Wars Story provides a true sense of adventure while opening audiences’ eyes to new corners of a galaxy far, far away. It’s a nice change of pace to have a story that doesn’t rely on a conflict between Jedi and Sith or decisions that will either save or doom the galaxy. It’s fun to see a smaller-scale conflict in the criminal underworld. It’s also intriguing to see the Empire at a stage when they have firm control of the galaxy, yet they aren’t used as the story’s primary antagonists.

In terms of the characters, the film does a wonderful job portraying the bromance dynamic between Han and Chewbacca. Alden Ehrenreich has an impressive performance which pays homage to Harrison Ford while also making it his own. Donald Glover is perfect as a younger Lando Calrissian. Emilia Clarke makes Qi’ra a more complex and mysterious character than anticipated, leading to stunning development and an even more stunning appearance of a fan-favorite character. L3-37 is both hilarious and insightful. The character of Enfys Nest is also taken in an unexpected direction that connects to Rogue One and opens up the door for many more compelling stories in the future. Considering all the behind-the-scenes drama that occurred, Ron Howard did a remarkable job pulling this film together.

Solo is a lot of fun, but it does seem like more of a surface level movie compared to recent Star Wars films. The Force Awakens, Rogue One, and The Last Jedi left were fun but they also grappled with some complex questions and ideas. Solo doesn’t do that as much and as such doesn’t wow as much as other Star Wars films from the last few years.

3. Ralph Breaks the Internet

Ralph Breaks the Internet achieves the rare feat of a sequel being even better than its predecessor. Wreck-It-Ralph was clever, but the sequel takes that cleverness to a whole new level, while also further developing the delightful relationship between Ralph and Vanellope.

The visual rendering and world-building used for the Internet is so self-aware, which allows the humor and overall story to truly resonate with audiences. Perhaps the best example of this is the Disney princesses scene and Vanellope’s song that follows, all of which taps into the cultural conversation that’s surrounded Disney princesses for years. The Disney princesses scene is also enriched by the fact that most of them were voiced by the original voice actors from their respective movies.

Ralph Breaks the Internet is also surprisingly mature as the primary antagonist essentially ends up being a manifestation of Ralph’s insecurities. That surprising maturity is furthered with how Ralph and Vanellope ultimately decide to proceed with their close friendship despite having different aspirations and places that they want to call home.

2. Black Panther

Black Panther is arguably the most important superhero movie of all-time. The tropes of white, male-dominated superhero stories are shattered not only through the representation of Black superheroes and villains, but also through the representation of Black female characters.

Without a doubt, Black Panther provides the best female representation to date in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Okoye, Nakia, and Shuri all receive significant focus and development. Okoye as the warrior, Nakia as the covert spy, and Shuri as the brilliant scientist all provide positive representation in different ways. It’s also wonderful to see them working together rather than falling into the trope of female characters constantly bickering and fighting among themselves.

The use of Martin Freeman’s Everett Ross also breaks a common trope. As an outsider to Wakanda he acts as a bit of comic relief while also stepping up to be an unexpected hero that helps save the day. That role is generally reserved for the token Black, Hispanic, or Asian character. Black Panther turns the trope on its head by having one of the only movie’s white characters take on that role instead.

The villains are also a highlight of the movie. Andy Serkis is brilliant as the psychotic Ulysses Klaue, and the movie culminates Klaue’s story in a thoroughly unexpected way. Michael B. Jordan’s performance and the writing of Erik Killmonger is even more intriguing, though. Killmonger’s motivations largely rest in trying to fix the systematic injustices in place to oppress Black individuals around the world. This is a real-world issue that resonates with audiences. Killmonger’s motivations are completely understandable, but it’s his cruel and violent means of trying to fix the problem that make him a villain. His tragic backstory and motivations make him one of the most sympathetic and well-developed cinematic super-villains to ever exist.

1.  Avengers: Infinity War

Everyone knew Avengers: Infinity War was going to be epic. What made the movie even better than anticipated, though, was the impressive amount of character work that it did. A common concern leading up to the release was that there would be too many characters, ultimately leading to none of them really receiving any development or arc. While that is the case for some characters, many of them actually undergo a significant amount of development, particularly Gamora, Thor, Rocket, Wanda, Vision, Tony Stark, Bruce Banner, and Doctor Strange.

Even more impressive is the character work done with Thanos, who despite wanting to wipe out half the universe comes across as a surprisingly grounded figure. His concerns of the suffering caused by overpopulation and starvation are logical. He truly believes what he’s doing is right and for the greater good, but obviously his methods of dealing with these issues are insane and make him a villain. Further fleshing out his relationship with Gamora also humanizes him further.

What makes Infinity War truly special, though, is how it ultimately rejects the formula that most MCU movies follow. Many beloved characters perish and for once the heroes do not emerge victorious. The stakes feel real and there’s a true sense of genuine loss and heartbreak that’s been missing from most MCU movies.

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If you liked what you read, check out more of my writing on Screen Rant, FanSided, Dork Side of the Force, and Beyond Westworld.

What were your favorite movies of 2018? Sound off in the comments!

 

 

Top Image Credit: Sony Animation Studios

Top 10 Favorite Movies Of 2017

Top 10 Favorite Movies Of 2017

Say what you will about 2017, but it did deliver many excellent films. Critically it was one of the most fascinating years in recent memory. Instead of only drooling over the usual Oscar-bait, critics praised superhero movies like Wonder Woman while many upheld the horror-comedy Get Out as the best film of the year. As a result, the interests of yours truly actually aligned with many of the critics this year. While it was a refreshing change of pace, certain movies did or didn’t resonate with me like they did with the critics. Here are my top 10 favorite movies released in 2017 (minor spoilers ahead for some films):

10. Thor: Ragnarok

thor ragnarok #1
‘Thor: Ragnarok’ [Credit: Marvel Studios]
Director Taika Waititi reshaped the narrative around Thor films through his bizarre, quirky, improvisational style. Despite the change in approach, Loki still stole the show with his charm, sarcasm and intricate character development. Tom Hiddleston’s approach to the character somehow works every time he appears, but all the other actors clearly got on board with Waititi’s vision as well and made it a reality. The movie finally embraced the cosmos outside Earth and Asgard through the weirdness of Sakaar, complemented by the hilarious Korg and Jeff Goldblum’s callous Grandmaster.

The movie didn’t live up to its complete potential, though, as it sometimes sacrificed important plot points or character moments for laughs. Important information about Surtur and Ragnarok is eclipsed in the beginning by Thor making dumb jokes. Beneath the humor, the film contained an intriguing theme about whitewashing history. Hela’s motivations and backstory relied heavily on this theme and the fascinating revelation that she and Odin built the empire of Asgard off the blood of other worlds before Odin banished Hela and changed the narrative. Unfortunately, the movie doesn’t dive into this theme enough. But Waititi’s fresh approach works well overall, and provides excellent development for Thor, Bruce Banner/Hulk, Loki, and Valkyrie heading into Avengers: Infinity War.

9. Professor Marston and the Wonder Women

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‘Professor Marston and the Wonder Women’ [Credit: Annapurna Pictures]
Following the sensational success of Wonder Woman, Professor Marston and the Wonder Women shares the fascinating tale of creation behind the iconic and more popular than ever superhero. The relationships between Professor William Marston, his wife Elizabeth, and their protégé Olive are deeply moving. Their story demonstrates the raw beauty of human love when stigmas are lifted. Audiences care about their relationships on a personal level, and seeing how their dynamics and personalities shape core elements of Wonder Woman allows audiences to care about these characters even further. Amidst their relationships, academia, feminism, BDSM, and the invention of the lie detector all play integral roles in creating Wonder Woman.

One narrative drawback in the film is that it feels like audiences are shown that William loves Elizabeth and Olive, Elizabeth loves William and Olive, and that Olive loves Elizabeth. However, the audience is really only told that Olive comes to love William and never shown this. This makes their dynamics and relationship less believable, but it ultimately doesn’t detract too much from the film’s many strong elements.

8. Coco

After a few sub-par entries in recent years, Pixar showed they were back on their game with Coco. The imaginative story delivers a celebration of culture, family, and music. The Land of the Dead is a visually breathtaking setting. Creative, meaningful concepts like the customs area and rules of who can and can’t pass over root the Land of the Dead in stellar world-building. Against this backdrop, Pixar brings the family-friendly humor but also explores deeper concepts like the role collective memory plays in shaping legacies and the identity of future generations. But there’s just as much emphasis on the impact of an individual’s memories on legacy and identity. There’s also a pretty shocking, dark twist in the film’s third act that directly influences the film’s exploration of memory. Above all the film is a diverse celebration of culture, family, and music and the healing power of these elements on memory.

7. Beauty and the Beast

beauty-and-the-beast-trailer
‘Beauty and the Beast’ [Credit: Walt Disney Studios]
Disney’s live-action remake acts as a homage to the 1991 animated film while incorporating a variety of fresh elements. One of the best examples is how a key bonding point between Belle and the Beast is their love for reading. This was touching in the 1991 film when Belle teaches Beast how to read and as he embraces the wonders of reading  the two characters find another meaningful bond with each other. This is made even better in the new film through their shared, intellectual passions as already voracious readers. Scenes in the library, where they both read independently or to each other at the dinner table and on the castle grounds honor the previous film while adding new, rich layers to the current story.

Emma Watson plays Belle perfectly through sharp intellect, charm, and fierce bravery. Characters like LeFou and Maurice become more nuanced instead of just existing as caricatures. Luke Evans is the perfect individual we never knew should play Gaston, capturing the character through the strongest singing performance in the film. The likes of Emma Thompson, Ian McKellen, Ewan McGregor, and Dan Stevens provide mesmerizing voices that help to bring the beloved characters and classic story to life like never before.

6. Get Out

get-out-movie-2017
‘Get Out’ [Credit: Universal Pictures]
Get Out is the rare movie that has a strong idea behind it while the execution of that idea in the film is just as strong. The idea that we don’t live in a post-racial world isn’t mind-blowing, but it is an essential truth that needs to be explored. Jordan Peele’s horror-comedy delves into the facade of a post-racial world, and the ugliness lurking behind such lies. The delightful blend of thrilling, creepy, and hilarious elements make Peele’s approach to tackling these ideas equally entertaining and thought-provoking. Through the gradual buildup, arguably the most shocking film twist in 2017, and the violent ending, the suspense never falters. It’s a movie that’s completely engaging from start to finish, and will stick with audiences long after they see the film.

5. War for the Planet of the Apes

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‘War for the Planet of the Apes’ [Credit: 20th Century Fox]
By developing character and theme instead of spectacle, this science-fiction prequel trilogy always seemed to be way better than it had any right to be. The concluding chapter in the trilogy continued this success with perhaps the strongest entry yet. Instead of a drawn-out explosive fight between apes and humans, the movie hones in on Caesar’s misguided revenge plot. Like a tragic Shakespearean figure, Caesar is a brilliant, now broken leader, seeking revenge with the futile hope it will heal his many losses. The film particularly excels in quiet moments of beauty and tragedy, all asking the audience what it truly means to be human. The moment in which the mute human child Nova asks Maurice if she is an ape is both poignant and uplifting. The final, wordless confrontation between Caesar and Woody Harrelson’s villain exposes the thin line between their two species and provides insight into what humanity really looks like. It’s heavy stuff, made a little lighter by Steve Zahn’s Bad Ape.

4. Blade Runner 2049

It’s difficult to continue the story of a classic, especially after garnering thirty years of critical acclaim. Blade Runner 2049 manages to not only act as a worthy sequel, but it provides compelling world-building and further enhances the overall narrative. Through visually stunning cinematography and a soundtrack that perfectly captures the mood, the film explores the question of what it really means to be human. Building on the original Blade Runner, Replicants tend to act more humane than humans, leaving the audience to ponder what genuine humanity is at all. Ryan Gosling’s character K has rich development that subverts the “chosen one” trope. His relationship with Joi acts as a poignant and sometimes amusing insight into the relationships modern day individuals share with their prized technological devices. Harrison Ford’s Deckard is used the perfect amount, providing depth and a redemptive arc that enriches his overall character. There are more twists than in the original film, though the sequel lacks some of its predecessor’s rich ambiguity. This is partly rooted in Jared Leto’s performance as the underdeveloped villain Niander Wallace. But overall the core themes and characters are thought-provoking enough and the film beautifully made to outweigh such drawbacks.

3. Wonder Woman

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‘Wonder Woman’ [Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures]
 

Blending together elements of mythology, history, and superhero origin stories, Wonder Woman became one of the most entertaining and important movies of the year. Gal Gadot’s sensational performance nailed all aspects of the character, along with an inspired supporting cast. Audiences finally got to experience a female-led superhero movie brimming with heart, humor, and epic sequences. The emphasis on mythology and the World War I setting gave the film a unique feel that is grounded with traditional elements of a superhero origin story. It is a refreshing break from the brooding angst of recent superhero films, particularly in the DCEU. In an age where darkness and cynicism often reign both in entertainment and reality, Wonder Woman is an uplifting breath of fresh air.

2. Logan

X-Men films are often constrained by their massive ensembles, leaving many compelling characters unexplored in a race to an explosive battle in the third act. Logan prevented this issue by focusing on the characters of Logan, Charles Xavier, and Laura. The character-driven story leads to the best X-Men film of all time as the three protagonists and their relationships are explored in-depth. Logan and Charles struggle to find their places in a world that has moved on from mutants, haunted by the sins of their pasts. Both men find purpose through Laura, a mutant child who is fierce with her powers, but in desperate need of guidance and companionship. They form a kind of dysfunctional family as Laura learns what it means to not just survive, but to embrace the gift of life.

This journey with Laura allows Charles and Logan to not only find purpose, but to finally confront their demons and complete their incredible character arcs in service to the future represented by Laura and her young mutant friends. The brutal fight scenes, the dysfunction between Logan and Caliban and a dementia-plagued Charles, and the quieter scenes between Logan and Charles and Laura all play equally well. Ultimately, the film exemplifies the beautiful and chaotic mess of life that Logan, Charles, and Laura all learn to embrace in different ways.

1. Star Wars: The Last Jedi

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‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ [Credit: Walt Disney Studios/Lucasfilm]
The core reason The Last Jedi is so divisive among fans is the very reason the film should be applauded. Rian Johnson dared to make bold choices and take substantial risks with his approach to the film. He deconstructed what audiences should expect from a Star Wars film. Instead of seeing constraints placed by the existing films and canon, he saw opportunities to expand the universe and test the characters in refreshing ways. This doesn’t just mean shocking twists. It means challenging the misconception from both characters and audiences that Luke Skywalker is a perfect legend. It means challenging the idea that Rey’s destiny relies on her lineage. It means characters figuring out how to resolve a situation when their desperate, half-baked plans fail to save the day. It means pushing the boundaries of the abilities wielded by Force-sensitive individuals, and the beliefs that govern their decisions.

Carrie Fisher delivers one of her all-time best performances in what will tragically be her final appearance as Leia. Her steadfast leadership in impossible situations, wry humor, palpable spirit, and an overdue use of a certain power serve as a beautiful testament to both Leia and Carrie Fisher herself. Mark Hamill sells Luke’s complex and ultimately satisfying journey, an arc that doesn’t destroy the character but that challenges his core identity when he feels like he’s failed the galaxy and the people he cares about most. Learning from his mistakes and with the help of an old friend, Luke experiences some of his greatest development yet with the decisions he makes in the film’s final act.

Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver are fantastic as well, selling the unlikely bond that forms between Rey and Kylo Ren as they channel their raw power and struggle to find their place and purpose in the galaxy.  They are equally as compelling at portraying how their characters grapple with the mind-blowing consequences of the bond they sought for different reasons. Of the brand new characters, Laura Dern’s Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo is the standout. Soft-spoken and reserved and appearing more feminine than other Resistance members, she challenges both characters like Poe and the audience to rethink what makes a true leader and hero. This is a lesson that both audiences and characters need as there’s far more to successful heroism and leadership than jumping in an X-Wing and blowing stuff up. With the aid of lightspeed, Holdo also owns one of the film’s most epic moments.

The movie isn’t perfect—such as Captain Phasma being wasted again—but overall The Last Jedi is the most captivating and bold movie of 2017 from start to finish.

If you enjoyed what you read, check out more of my writing on Screen Rant: https://screenrant.com/author/mrudo/

What’s your favorite movie of 2017? Share your thoughts in the comments. 

Top Photo Credit: Walt Disney Studios/Lucasfilm

New Posts Update

Hey everyone! I just wanted to let you know that for the past few months I’ve primarily been writing posts at this link: https://creators.co/@MatthewRudoy

I will occasionally post here but will continue to primarily post on my Creators page. Check out my page to stay updated on the latest for TV shows and movies!

How Shireen Baratheon’s Legacy Led To A Major ‘Game Of Thrones’ Revelation

How Shireen Baratheon’s Legacy Led To A Major ‘Game Of Thrones’ Revelation

Warning: Game of Thrones spoilers ahead.

From the return of a long-departed character to news of an unexpected pregnancy, Season 7 of Game of Thrones continues to slay with the latest episode ‘Eastwatch’. Yet, another huge moment flew under the radar amidst books and a mispronunciation, a major revelation that even the scholarly Samwell Tarly didn’t catch. This moment was brought to us by Gilly, but would not have been possible without Shireen Baratheon and her lasting impact. Let’s first take a look at Gilly’s discovery:

Gilly Uncovers The Real Story Behind R+L=J

As Gilly regaled a frustrated Sam with fun facts like the number of steps in the Citadel and how many windows were in the Great Sept of Baelor, she unwittingly stumbled upon the true story behind Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. The longtime fan theory that Rhaegar and Lyanna were Jon Snow’s parents—R+L=J—was confirmed in the Season 6 finale ‘The Winds of Winter’ via Bran’s vision at the Tower of Joy. But until now audiences still didn’t know the real deal behind Rhaegar and Lyanna. Some claimed Rhaegar kidnapped and raped Lyanna while others spoke of passionate lovers that essentially eloped, their love burning too bright for the Seven Kingdoms. Now, as Gilly tells Sam via the diligent recordings of High Septon Maynard,

“Maynard says here that he issued an annulment for a Prince ‘Ragger’ and remarried him to someone else at the same time in a secret ceremony in Dorne.”

Gilly has come a long way with her reading ability, but her pronunciations are still not perfect. Prince ‘Ragger’ is actually Prince Rhaegar. Gilly thus discovers that the tale of passionate, consensual love between Rhaegar and Lyanna is the true tale. Rhaegar’s marriage to Elia Martell was annulled by this High Septon Maynard who then secretly remarried him. The ‘someone else’ has to be Lyanna based on what is known about the timing of Rhaegar disappearing with Lyanna, the beginning of Robert’s Rebellion, and eventually the confirmation of R+L=J that Bran witnessed in his Tower of Joy vision.

Not only does this put to rest the debate about Rhaegar and Lyanna’s relationship, but it also clarifies that  is not a bastard. Since Lyanna and Rhaegar married, Jon is a legitimate Targaryen child. Had Rhaegar lived to succeed his father Aerys Targaryen—the Mad King—Jon would’ve been Rhaegar’s heir to the Iron Throne. Now by the laws of Westeros and the Targaryen claim, Jon has a better claim to the Iron Throne than his Aunt Daenerys (Aunt Daenerys sounds even weirder than I thought it would).

Brimming with justified frustration and contempt for the Citadel, Sam completely missed this revelation. For both the past and future of Jon Snow and all of Westeros, Gilly’s discovery will be crucial moving forward, though it wouldn’t have happened without Shireen Baratheon.

Shireen’s Lasting Legacy

Shireen’s death is easily one of the most heartbreaking moments in all of . As fans continue to struggle with the loss of the girl both so fiercely intelligent and sweet, Season 7 has provided some closure and comfort through the likes of Gilly and Davos Seaworth. Shireen’s relationship with her parents left much to be desired, yet she formed lovely relationships with Gilly and Davos. Both Gilly and Davos were illiterate, but Shireen taught them how to read. Sam helped Gilly learn to read as well, however, Shireen was also integral to building Gilly’s literacy skills.

Without Shireen, Gilly would’ve never learned to read. Without Gilly knowing how to read, the revelation about Rhaegar and Lyanna and what that means for Jon would currently remain a mystery. On a personal level, Shireen’s teaching has also enriched the relationship between Sam and Gilly. Gilly is now just as capable at sharing obscure, fun facts that broaden one’s perspective of the world. Sam and Gilly’s relationship is therefore more intellectual and just as sweet as ever.

The legacy of Shireen also lives on through Davos. Fans reveled in Davos correcting Jon’s grammar in ‘The Spoils Of War’ but the teaching credit seems to be going towards Stannis. More credit should go to Shireen as she directly taught Davos to read during numerous hours of instruction as opposed to Stannis’s occasional mutterings about grammar. Regardless, it’s comforting to see Shireen’s legacy live on through the literacy of both Davos and Gilly, whether it’s Gilly’s discovery or Davos correcting the King in the North’s grammar. Even in the cutthroat world of Westeros, literacy is essential.

Season 7 of Game of Thrones continues Sunday, August 20th on .

Image Credit: HBO

Does An Unlikely Ally Await Tyene Sand In King’s Landing?

Does An Unlikely Ally Await Tyene Sand In King’s Landing?

It was a rough night for Tyene Sand. Tyene and her mother Ellaria Sand were taken captive following the brutal murders of Obara and Nymeria at the hands of Euron Greyjoy. Now Euron heads for King’s Landing with the priceless gift he promised Cersei. Queen Cersei’s rage will run unchecked as she torments the women responsible for lethally poisoning Myrcella. Life is pretty terrible for Tyene and her mother right now, but perhaps their doom isn’t quite sealed thanks to an unlikely ally in King’s Landing: Bronn. The opportunistic sellsword only became the anointed knight Ser Bronn of the Blackwater through working with Lannisters—the very people the Sands seek to destroy. So why would Bronn help these women?

Bronn’s History With Tyene

In Season 5 Bronn traveled to Dorne with Jaime Lannister on a foolhardy mission to find Myrcella and bring her back to King’s Landing. Tyene and her fellow Sand Snake sisters (R.I.P. Obara and Nymeria) clashed with Jaime and Bronn. During the fight Tyene’s dagger cut Bronn with the same poison that would later kill Myrcella. The poison nearly killed him while captive in the Dornish cells. Tyene saved him by tossing over the antidote, only after seducing Bronn from the opposite cell and making him agree that she’s the most beautiful women in the world. She also complimented Bronn’s singing and his looks.

[Credit: Giphy.com]

Will Bronn Help Tyene Or Her Mother?

Attraction and chemistry flared between Bronn and Tyene in Season 5. But more importantly, Tyene chose to save Bronn’s life when she could’ve easily allowed the poison to kill Bronn as it later did Myrcella. Bronn owes Tyene his life. Bad p*ssy is not worth betraying the Lannisters and risking his life.

A life debt is a different story.

Bronn may live for gold and the promises of great wealth that will lead to a castle and noblewoman, but he also has a code. He’s always remained brutally honest and loyal to both Tyrion and Jaime. Sure, they’ve paid him well and lured him with appealing promises but it’s still impressive he’s remained so loyal and honest.

Credit: Giphy.com

Jaime may still live by certain reasonable and moral principles unlike his sister, but all of that will be thrown out the window when Tyene and Ellaria arrive in King’s Landing. These are the women responsible for killing the daughter who died in Jaime’s arms seconds after telling Jaime she knew he was her father and was glad about it. Jaime will want Tyene and Ellaria to suffer just as much as Cersei does.

Thus, aiding Tyene would be the first instance of Bronn betraying the Lannisters he serves. Bronn probably won’t have any interest in helping Ellaria as they have no history and she was the real mastermind behind Myrcella’s death, though Tyene would want him to help her as well. Bronn is now faced with the choice of whether to try and save the life of a woman to whom he owes a life debt and has feelings for or to remain loyal to his benefactor and friend Jaime Lannister.

The Verdict

Ultimately it is unlikely that Bronn will step in to save Tyene or Ellaria from Cersei’s wrath. Beneath his ceaseless opportunism Bronn may live by a code, but part of that code is to remain alive and do what your generous benefactors ask of you. There is too much risk and not enough reward in this situation.

Bronn can also be seen next to Jaime Lannister on a battlefield sequence in a Season 7 trailer. Unless he’s able to save Tyene without Jaime, Cersei or any of their allies finding out, there’s no way Bronn would be next to Jaime on the battlefield.

Jaime and Bronn on the battlefield in a 'Game of Thrones' Season 7 trailer [Credit: HBO]
Credit: HBO
Still, things were left open-ended enough between Bronn and Tyene in Season 5 with hints towards a future meeting. Current events have created a foundation for such a meeting in King’s Landing. However, it will certainly not be the pleasure-filled reunion either character envisioned. Most likely is a scene in which Tyene pleads with Bronn to help as he silently refuses, his instincts for self-preservation taking precedence over the life debt he owes and feelings he harbors for her.

Game of Thrones Season 7, Episode 3 “The Queen’s Justice” airs Sunday, June 30th at 9 PM on .

Will Bronn face Tyene Sand in King’s Landing and help her? Share your prediction in the comments section below!

Image Credit: HBO

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Arya Stark Steals The Show In ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 7 Premiere

Arya Stark Steals The Show In ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 7 Premiere

Warning: Game of Thrones Season 7 spoilers ahead.

The Game of Thrones Season 7 premiere “Dragonstone” delivered fantastic moments all around but saved the best for Arya Stark. After spending most of Seasons 5 and 6 locked in a storyline that frustrated many fans, Arya finally gets the scenes she deserve that convey both her cunning nature and her humanity.

That Awkward Moment When You Didn’t Kill All The Starks

Ever since the Red Wedding the Freys have patted themselves on the back for murdering and betraying the Starks. Their triumph made them more careless than ever as they lost Riverrun to the Blackfish and needed Jaime and the Lannister army to reclaim the castle in Season 6. Even after re-seizing Riverrun, the carelessness continued as Arya used her skills gained in Braavos to enact revenge against Walder Frey in the Season 6 finale.

Arya kills Walder Frey. [Credit: HBO]
Arya kills Walder Frey. [Credit: HBO]
Season 7 opens perfectly with Arya fulfilling her revenge against all the Freys. David Bradley brilliantly balances a Walder Frey convincing enough for his kin but with enough subtle differences that the audience knows it’s Arya wearing his face. Her words drive home just how messed up it is that the Freys continue to congratulate themselves because they “butchered a woman pregnant with her babe” and “cut the throat of a mother of five” and “slaughtered your guests after inviting them into your home.” Just like when she’s killed others on her list such as Polliver, Meryn Trant, and Walder Frey, Arya makes sure all the Freys know why they’re dying and who is killing them. In their final moments the Freys come face to face with the height of their heinous crimes and the fatal price of their careless arrogance.

The smirk on Arya’s face as she strolls past the array of lethally poisoned Freys is reminiscent of Sansa’s smirk after leaving Ramsay to his starving hounds, reminding audiences again of why Sansa and Arya need to reunite. Arya’s revenge is not only just but she also has enough humanity to spare Walder Frey’s latest wife and the serving women. She recognizes the futility of killing women who took no part in executing the Red Wedding, especially when the wife is a victim of the very people she hates. It also doesn’t hurt that they’ll spread the word about what happens when you mess with the Starks.

There’s Still Humanity In Westeros

Arya continued to steal the show beyond her epic Red Wedding revenge in a later scene where she encounters a small group of Lannister soldiers featuring a cameo from Ed Sheeran. While the opening scene displayed her cunning nature with a dash of humanity, this scene swapped the roles of those defining characteristics. Encountering a group of enemy soldiers near the Twins is not an unfamiliar situation for Arya. The very same thing happened in the Season 3 finale, only it was a small group of Frey soldiers shortly after the Red Wedding. Arya killed her first man back then and needed the Hound to finish off the rest. Coming off her single-handed mass poisoning of all important Freys, killing this group of Lannister soldiers didn’t seem like too difficult a feat.

What happens in this scene is way better than another bout of vengeful of murder, though. Arya’s humanity surfaces as the soldiers show their humanity. They offer her food and personally brewed drink and even give her the first bite since she’s their guest. One soldier shares his mother’s advice about being kind to strangers and expresses concern for his father while another smiles while talking about his wife having a baby. It’s a far cry from the Frey soldiers mocking the way Catelyn Stark sounded as she died.

Game of Thrones reminds us that while highborn individuals fight for the Iron Throne and the Army of the Dead looms closer, there are still plenty of everyday people in Westeros. Most of these individuals aren’t like the self-serving, sadistic schemers we’re used to seeing. They’re just normal folk with common fears and desires who happen to serve in an army that’s been considered the enemy since Season 1.

Maisie Williams carries the scene, her eyes expressing just a hint of surprise that these Lannister soldiers are such compassionate and normal people. She can’t help but smile and laugh, connecting with these soldiers and their everyday worries and desires. They unknowingly bring forth her humanity at a time when she needs it most, a time in which she can become completely consumed by her vengeance, no matter how justified it may be. With Arya’s life in recent years mostly revolving around Jaqen H’ghar and the Waif beating her into becoming “No One” and crossing enemies off her list, this scene is the first positive human interaction Arya has had in a long time. She even allays the soldiers’ mild suspicions with the unbelievable truth and more laughter.

What’s Next For Arya?

It seems like Arya is headed south to kill Cersei and the Mountain, thereby completing her list. This taking precedence over reuniting with her siblings at Winterfell is a bit disappointing. Nevertheless, the road to King’s Landing and the enemies that await her there will certainly prove fascinating. Arya traveling to King’s Landing with the same group of Lannister soldiers she met in this episode would be particularly fascinating. They could grow fond and protective of Arya, unaware of her identity. Unfortunately this is unlikely to happen as those soldiers were sent to the Riverlands in the first place to keep the peace in the wake of Arya’s violent actions at the Twins. More importantly it’s unlikely Ed Sheeran is going to transcend a cameo role and become a recurring character. Poised for a direwolf reunion in the preview for next week’s episode and her most formidable enemies yet awaiting in King’s Landing, Arya’s story will continue to be a highlight of Season 7.

What predictions do you have for Arya as Season 7 continues?

 

Image Credit: HBO

Will The Ghost Crew Meet Cassian And K-2SO In ‘Star Wars Rebels’ Season 4?

From Lando Calrissian to Ahsoka Tano, Star Wars Rebels excels at weaving a rich array of Star Wars characters into their narrative. Fans reveled in the inclusion of Rogue One characters in Season 3, such as Saw Gerrera and Mon Mothma, both of whom are set to return in Season 4. With Star Wars Rebels entering its final season, and the show’s timeline growing even closer to the events of Rogue One, the potential for including more Rogue One characters definitely exists. Two fan favorites — Cassian Andor and K-2SO — have the most potential of Rogue One characters to meet the Ghost crew in Season 4 with their integral roles in the Rebel Alliance.

Yavin 4 Sets The Perfect Stage For Meeting

Audiences already know from Rogue One that Cassian and K-2 are staples of the Rebel Alliance and frequent the base on Yavin 4. The  Season 3 finale and Season 4 trailer show the Ghostcrew is now headed to Yavin 4. Cassian has been in the fight against the Empire since he was 6 years old and, due to his crucial position in the Alliance by the time of Rogue One, it’s a sure bet he’d already be on Yavin 4 during the time of Season 4.

It’s unclear how long K-2 has been part of the Alliance, though an upcoming comic book will likely clarify that. Unless the timing is super close to the beginning of Rogue One — which is unlikely based on K-2’s familiarity with the Alliance and repertoire with Cassian in the film — K-2 is just as likely to be frequenting the Yavin 4 base around the time of Star Wars Rebels Season 4.

There are countless ways Cassian and K-2 can cross paths with the Ghost crew once they land. Cassian could even be an individual to whom they report in greater detail what happened at the Battle of Atollon. While Cassian and K-2 could meet all members of the Ghost crew, in terms of longevity, the characters they’re most likely to meet and maintain relationships with are Hera and Chopper, who are at Yavin 4 during the time of Rogue One.

K-2 interacting with Chopper and AP-5 would be absolutely hilarious, and he would refuse to take any crap from the sometimes immature Zeb and Ezra. Dedicated to defeating the Empire and restoring what they’ve destroyed, Cassian would likely be most interested in meeting the Jedi among the Ghost crew: Kanan and Ezra.

Kanan and Ezra in 'Star Wars Rebels' [Credit: Disney-ABC TV]
Kanan and Ezra in ‘Star Wars Rebels’ [Credit: Disney-ABC TV]

Would Cassian Mistake Chirrut For A Jedi If He’d Already Met Kanan And Ezra?

After Cassian witnesses the blind Chirrut Imwe battling Stormtroopers on Jedha, he asks Baze Malbus if Chirrut is a Jedi. This makes sense when watching Rogue One, as the Jedi have mostly become the stuff of myths and legends due after Order 66. Chirrut’s dialogue concerning the Force and his unique fighting style would logically make Cassian wonder if the Guardian of the Whills is a Jedi.

While this makes sense in the context of Rogue One and Star Wars canon up to that point, it is highly unlikely that Cassian would mistake Chirrut for a Jedi if he’d already met Kanan and Ezra. Chirrut is impressive and his belief in the Force powerful, but he is not a Jedi. If Cassian has met Kanan and Ezra, seen them use the Force, and wield their lightsabers, Cassian should recognize Chirrut is not a Jedi.

If their meeting is written well, Cassian could meet Kanan and Ezra without seeing them use their powers or even knowing they’re Jedi. There likely won’t be any fighting on the Rebel base, so there would probably be no need for Kanan and Ezra to use their powers, so Cassian would never know their identity. There’s no need for Kanan and Ezra to announce they’re Jedi ,or for members of the Rebel Alliance like Bail Organa to inform Cassian.

There’s also the possibility that Cassian and K-2 could meet some but not all members of the Ghost crew. From a writing standpoint, there are many storylines to resolve, and from an in-universe standpoint, there are endless battles to be waged in the fight against the Empire. Both options could lead the Ghost crew to split up more than ever before. This began last season when Sabine chose to stay with her family on Mandalore, intent on uniting her war-torn home world.

This season, some of the Ghost crew could head to Lothal to liberate the planet from the Empire, while others combat the ongoing threat of Grand Admiral Thrawn. If Kanan and Ezra go to Lothal, Cassian and K-2 could still meet other members of the Ghost crew like Hera and Zeb.

Cassian’s Fulcrum Status Could Lead To A Mission With The Ghost Crew

Just because the Rebel Alliance base is on Yavin 4 and Cassian, K-2 and the Ghost crew will logically all be there this season doesn’t mean it’s the only place these characters can meet. Just like Ahsoka and Kallus, Cassian is also a Fulcrum agent. With Ahsoka’s fate still a mystery, and Kallus getting his cover blown at the end of last season, Cassian could very well become the key Fulcrum agent in the show. As an undercover agent, he could easily be assigned to help the Ghost crew infiltrate an Imperial base or a planet occupied by the Empire.

Cassian could even be assigned to help the Ghost crew in their mission to liberate Lothal. Cassian’s sniper skills and K-2’s piloting skills could be utilized for that mission. K-2 would also be well-suited for such a mission thanks to his knowledge of the Empire and ability to blend in as a former Imperial droid.

Even more intriguing is the possibility that Cassian and K-2 work with the Ghost crew without them realizing who Cassian and K-2 are, or that they’re part of the Rebel Alliance. The Ghost crew received critical information from an unknown Fulcrum agent in Season 3 before learning the information came from Kallus. They’d been actively fighting Kallus without realizing he was Fulcrum and on their side, which helped further Kallus’s deception towards his Imperial peers. A similar situation could arise with Cassian and K-2 in order to maintain their cover within the Empire.

Commander Sato and the Ghost Crew receiving information from Fulcrum in ''Star Wars Rebels' [Credit: Disney-ABC TV]
Commander Sato and the Ghost Crew receiving information from Fulcrum in ”Star Wars Rebels’ [Credit: Disney-ABC TV]
With all these pieces aligned, it would be a missed opportunity to not introduce Cassian and K-2SO into Star Wars Rebels and have them meet the Ghost crew. Such inclusion can provide more specific insight into what Cassian and K-2 did for the Rebel Alliance before Rogue One, particularly concerning some of Cassian’s morally questionable actions that still haunt him. Creating a meeting between these characters can further the fascinating connectivity in canon and another meaningful link between Rogue One and Star Wars Rebels.

Season 4 of Star Wars Rebels premieres Saturday, September 23 on Disney XD.

Do you think the Ghost crew will meet Cassian and K-2SO this season?