Archive | April 2019

Episode Review: Star vs the Forces of Evil (Season 4, Episode 10) – Cornball / Meteora’s Lesson

Watching the fourth season of Star vs the Forces of Evil, it has felt like there’s often some inter-connective themes when there are two segments for some of the 22-minute episodes.

For their tenth episode of the season, it feels like the writers have chosen to focus on the next generation of monsters and mewmans on the planet Mewni.

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– Cornball –

As a continued way of showing social barriers being broken, Mewni is holding it’s first monsters-vs-mewmans Cornball game. Star Butterfly eagerly invites Buff Frog and his family to watch (and hopefully return to Mewni), but the family frog has his doubts that things have changed.

It was a disappointment to me when it looked like a possible character development for Buff Frog was sidelined in Season 3, but I was very excited to see his return in this story. Along for the ride are his children, who have grown since we last saw them. His daughter Katrina I felt could have some great potential, and she does have a few fun moments here.

We also get some fun in the form of Kelly and Marco in the announcer’s booth. voice-actress Dana Davis really sounds like she’s having fun in this episode,  and voice-actor Adam McArthur also adds some humor to Marco trying to understand the rules of Cornball.

Overall, it’s not so much the game of Cornball this story is attempting to tell, as to show some elements of “generational acceptance.” Some can probably guess where the story is going to go half-way through the segment, but it led to a somewhat predictable storyline, that still left me with a smile on my face in the end.

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Best line from segment (said by Buff Frog): “One day, she will surpass me. I am…so proud.”

Final Grade: B

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– Meteora’s Lesson –

While Eclipsa has a meeting with the Pigeon Kingdom, she has Janna babysit Meteora. However, Glossaryck has other plans, and sneaks the little monster off for some one-on-one time.

At the end of last season, voice-actor Keith David took over voice duties for Glossaryck. He brings something a little different to the character, and it has felt like so far, he controls his vocal range a bit more than the previous voice actor. Glossaryck as a character has also seemed a bit more subdued this season as well. Then again, most of the last season had him going around just saying “Globgor.”

A surprise for this story, was Meteora! I had originally thought she was just going to be “the cute monster baby prop” of the season, but it seems she has a stronger connection with Glossaryck than I had originally thought. Though she can’t fully speak, we do get to see some minor character development given over to her (even if she is now a baby).

Much like Ghost of Butterfly Castle, this segment also delves into Mewni’s back-story, and we even get a surprising cameo appearance by a dark figure (though sadly, it doesn’t explain as much as I would have wished about this figure).

There’s also a journey through time, with a new character by the name of Reynaldo. There is a startling revelation about him, but it feels like he’ll just be another throwaway character as the season barrels towards it’s inevitable conclusion.

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Best line from segment (said by Glossaryck of Terms): “This might take awhile so-AGH you know what? Nevermind! He’s here!”

Final Grade: B-

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Best honorable mention line from episode (said by unnamed monster child, in Cornball): “This is for you, David! I’ll always love you!”

While both stories had their faults, the through-line about focusing on the next generation of mewmans and monsters, was a good combination. Though it stands to reason we may be left to imagine if they can get over the mistakes their parents and past generations made.

Our next episode will delve into a return to Marco’s knight subplot in The Knight Shift, and a royal emergency regarding Eclipsa, in Queen-napped. See you soon for our next review.

Episode Review: Star vs the Forces of Evil (Season 4, Episode 9) – Princess Quasar Caterpillar and the Magic Bell / Ghost of Butterfly Castle

After a 22-minute storyline messing with it’s incessant fan-shippers, Star vs the Forces of Evil returns to it’s regular two-segment format.

What is most notable about this episode, is that it’s segments push Star and her friends to the side, and focus on a few characters we haven’t seen in awhile.

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– Princess Quasar Caterpillar and the Magic Bell –

After failing to claim another magical artifact, Ludo doesn’t know what to do with himself. However, his younger brother Dennis attempts to help him…by dredging up things from Ludo’s sordid past.

The title for the episode is a little misleading, as it starts out with a very interesting alternate-dimension version of the Bon-Bon the Birthday Clown episode…for a few minutes, anyway (there’s even a tiny reference to the segment Ludo in the Wild).

The main focus of the segment is Dennis trying to break his brother out of his funk…though I do question Dennis’ methods in dragging Ludo back into his ‘old ways’ as a source of helping him move on. This doesn’t feel so much like Dennis trying to help Ludo, as it is “enabling” him. We even get to see the return of some of Ludo’s monster henchmen (some of whom I thought had been destroyed in the Season 1 finale!).

Where the story did get surprising, is when something happens that really shows just how much Ludo cares for Dennis. We haven’t really seen anything this strong from Ludo before regarding his family, and it ends up being the saving grace that lifted up the story in my eyes.

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Best line from segment (said by Ludo): “This feels better than I’d like it to.”

Final Grade: B-

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– Ghost of Butterfly Castle –

Moon Butterfly and her husband River have welcomed a number of the mewman population to live near their new home, but Moon grows annoyed when they can’t seem to agree on basic things.

Going back to the ruins of Butterfly Castle to find something that might help, she comes across some unexpected surprises.

This is Moon’s story, and we actually get some wonderful mood-filled moments, as she explores the castle. It’s like she is combing through the ruins of her previous life, and trying to figure out what she should do next. It’s a subtle “crossroads” segment, but what she decides to do going forward, will make one wonder if she will stick to her convictions.

Much like Moon’s previous appearance, the writers attempt to mine comedy out of the helplessness of the population, but it still doesn’t feel humorous to me.

An unexpected appearance is also made by Mina Loveberry. Mina’s appearances in the past felt as irritating as most of Ponyhead’s, but this may be one of the few times where a segment actually has her stop being over-the-top long enough be intriguing…and make us realize that she may now be one of the most dangerous beings on Mewni. This was most interesting in how we saw a revelation tying into a segment a few episodes ago.

There are areas of the segment that also tie into some Star-related books from Disney Press, and I could just imagine the surprise on some of the fan’s faces, as they hear some of Mewni’s history being discussed in this story.

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Best line from segment (said by Day-Planner Thief): “That’s anarchy for you!”

Final Grade: B-

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Best honorable mention line from episode (said by Ludo, in Princess Quasar Caterpillar and the Magic Bell): “Let’s say his heart is in a better place now.”

This episode seems to show that Ludo can’t quite escape his past, while Moon attempts to move on from hers. Both stories also make us wonder if this is the last we’ve seen of the two (most notably Ludo).

In the next episode, we get to see some of the popular Mewnian sport Cornball in the episode of the same name. Glossaryck also attempts to teach Meteora a thing-or-two, in Meteora’s Lesson. See you back here soon for the next review.

Episode Review: Star vs the Forces of Evil (Season 4, Episode 8) – Curse of the Blood Moon

With the fourth season of Star vs the Forces of Evil counting down to the end of the series,the inclusion of full 22-minute episodes, often opens up the storytelling to a much larger, and hopefully deeper storyline.

One story that many of the show’s loyal followers fondly recall, is The Blood Moon Ball from the first season. There have been story-points that seem to have tied into that segment over the last two seasons, and it looks like we’re going to delve a little deeper into the Blood Moon with this episode.

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– Curse of the Blood Moon –

After a late-night meeting with Star, Marco finds himself wrestling with his feelings for her. Bringing this information to both Star and Tom’s attention, Tom confesses that it may be linked to the blood moon that cast it’s light on Star and Marco during the Blood Moon Ball.

However, being bathed in the light of the blood moon, may have also cursed Star and Marco. Seeking help from Tom’s relation Relicor, they descend into the underworld, to try and break the curse.

As in the case of some stories when they really want to play with a character, Star is amped up to “super-cute” levels of playfulness at times, and Marco’s desperation about dealing with his emotions gives voice-actor Adam McArthur some of his funniest work so far this season.

Tom’s inclusion in Season 4 so far has been quite striking to see, and this episode shows how the writers are keeping his emotional reformation going…though it does seem a little odd that only now after all this time would he confess that he may have cursed his two friends. The writers also work in his ancient relation Relicor, who is quite well-versed in the curse of the blood moon.

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Janna is once again involved, though seems to mainly be here to act as her typical no-help self, enjoying the torment and irritation that the others are going through. I guess it’s better than having Ponyhead along for the ride, abrasively criticizing everything and everyone.

Eclipsa shows up for what amounts to a minor cameo, though it is rather nice to hear her expounding some very sound advice about feelings.

What is surprising is the pace at which the story moves. It moves so quickly, that it doesn’t seem like we’ve been watching a 22-minute episode!

It is notable how much conversation there is in the story, though it feels like the show slows down a bit once we get to the underworld. There’s one bit I feel that could have been cut out, and maybe given us a few extra minutes at the end with Star and Marco. This was a good and entertaining episode, but it feels like it could have gone a little further, and become a great episode if they hadn’t stopped it where they did.

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Best line from episode (said by Eclipsa): “Feelings are worth feeling, even if they hurt.”

Final Grade: B

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Best honorable mention line from episode (said by Marco Diaz): “Oh no…it’s too cute!”

In my personal opinion, I never really liked the attempts to make Star and Marco a couple. While many of the younger fans celebrated their fan-shippings of the two, I often longed for those early days of the series, when Star and Marco were “just friends.” Seeing them in that form of a pairing was what originally kept me coming back for more, and I do wonder where things can go from here.

The ninth episode of Season 4, will return us to our two-segment storytelling. With titles like Princess Quasar Caterpillar and the Magic Bell, and Ghost of Butterfly Castle, what does the show have in store for us next? See you next time for another review!

Episode Review: Star vs the Forces of Evil (Season 4, Episode 7) – Out of Business / Kelly’s World

While the last episode of Star vs the Forces of Evil focused once again on Eclipsa and her trying to win over those around her, the seventh episode features some more intimate stories. We get a return to a previous locale, and the chance to explore a new one!

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– Out of Business –

The inter-dimensional store called Quest Buy is going out-of-business, and Star, Marco, and Janna go to see what they can find. Their journey takes them to the Quest Buy stock room, and into an area that holds great danger for impressionable young people such as themselves.

With it’s massive size, I often felt that Quest Buy could hold plenty of potential to be a place where big adventures could be had. As it stands now, it sadly seems my imagination went beyond most of what the show’s writers imagined for the place.

This is more of a “wacky adventure” storyline, especially with Janna along for the ride (though just how she is able to get to Mewni, we still have no clue!). She ends up being the kooky element added to much of the interactions, and this story seems to confirm she has an uncomfortable obsession with Marco (though if we’ll ever know why or how she developed this, is most likely never going to be answered).

This was an okay storyline, and I am finding these little diversions from the Queen Eclipsa storyline to be rather intriguing, as we get to see our characters just be themselves for most of the time. Plus, this feels like one of the few stories so far, where Marco can be a bit off-the-wall.

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Best line from segment (said by Baby Marco): “I’m Baby Marco and I’ve got wheels for hands! Wheeee!!!”

Final Grade: B-

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– Kelly’s World –

Marco decides to visit Kelly, and finds her home-world to be a dimension composed of hair-based creatures and environments. Seeing her feeling depressed, Marco decides to help cheer her up, and they go off on a journey to return a library book.

When she was first introduced in Season 2, Kelly seemed little more than a side-character, but as the seasons have gone onward, she seems to have become a favorite of the writing staff. We also see she’s not far from her ex-boyfriend Tad, who still seems unable to cut ties after finding a new calling in life. However, I find this minor story-point to be something that may ring true to the older viewers. It also ties into Marco wrestling with his own feelings in regards to Star.

Marco ends up being our guide to this world, and we get to experience it through his eyes. The Woolettes are a hairy-yet-violent people, and it ties a little into why Kelly has a huge sword she carries around. The episode reminds me a little of Marco and Kelly’s interactions in the Lava Lake Beach story from last season. It almost seemed like the two were an on-again/off-again couple, but the show just didn’t go anywhere with it.

We have seen Marco and Kelly work well together in some storylines, and this one was an entertaining one, that makes me eager to see if we’ll get some more good stories with them before the end of the season.

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Best line from segment (said by Kelly): “Yeah, it’s illegal in like, 12 dimensions!”

Final Grade: B

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Best honorable mention line from episode (said by Unicorn Cake, in Out of Business): “Aw, don’t pay that no mind. It’s only raspberry!”

While I didn’t get the epic Quest Buy adventure I had hoped for in Out of Business, I was very surprised with the characterization and direction the storytelling took in the Kelly’s World segment. Much like how Ransomgram showed us a new environment and it’s world, the world of the Wooletts proved to be an intriguing new world to explore (if briefly).

The next episode gives us a full 22-minute story titled, Curse of the Blood Moon. The fandom has been going on-and-on(-and-on!) for 2 seasons about how the Blood Moon has made their “Starco” fanshippings a sure thing…but is it really true? See you back here soon for the next review.

Episode Review: Star vs the Forces of Evil (Season 4, Episode 6) – The Ponyhead Show / Surviving the Spider-Bites

This season of Star vs the Forces of Evil, feels like one of the first that’s had a pretty direct path regarding it’s storytelling.

Queen Eclipsa’s reign over Mewni is one of the larger stories, as she struggles to give the once downtrodden monster population greater freedom, while also having to put up with many who claim her to be pure evil.

This episode looks to try and do some things for her image on several fronts.

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– The Ponyhead Show –

Star attempts to help Eclipsa become better acclimated with the mewman population. Flying Princess Ponyhead has started a streaming show, and she is willing to allow Eclipsa to appear on it…or so she says.

When it comes to Ponyhead, she’s one of those characters that you either want to laugh with, or throttle. This is sadly one of those stories where the writers have put her in uber-abrasive mode, which just doesn’t work for me. We also get some reappearances of Ponyhead’s sisters, though they seem moreso there for background noise.

One of the few bits of humor, comes from a cooking show segment involving Marco and Kelly. There’s one bit with Kelly that is still giving me chuckles even after the story ended.

Star and Eclipsa are part of the main subplot, as they try to help Eclipsa find an angle that may make her palatable to viewing audiences. Eclipsa even gets to sing a song, with the melody and imagery ending up being one of the other saving graces of this episode besides Marco and Kelly’s bit.

Sadly, Ponyhead’s overpowering persona is what keeps me from really enjoying the segment, and it’s another case where making a character overly-obnoxious, just doesn’t push my buttons.

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Best line from segment (said by Kelly): “No no, I mean you did ruin wrestling for me that’s true but, you know I just walked around and dealt with it. Let’s go make some sandwiches, it’s not like you’ve never ruined anything before!”

Final Grade: C+

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– Surviving the Spider-Bites –

Eclipsa has an important meeting with the royal Spider-Bite family, but Star can’t seem to find her. With important alliances on the line, Star attempts to stall them until Eclipsa can be located.

There’s a certain vibe to the episode that makes it almost seem like a variation on last season’s Monster Ball storyline. From the monster castle environment to the dress Star is wearing, it appears to be another scenario where she is trying to act as a unifier. For much of the segment, Star carries the narrative. It’s not the best, but I do sometimes like seeing stories where Star struggles to make the best of a bad situation.

Much like Lake House Fever, this episode looks to give us more information on the lesser-known Spider-bite family. However, their characterization feels like just a small step-up from when Star and Marco encountered Rich Pigeon and his royal family last season.

There are a few interesting subplots about appearances and history, that ended up adding some twists and turns that were quite unexpected. There are some added historical revelations that came to light, let alone some questionable actions of Eclipsa’s, that may cast doubt on her truly being good for the kingdom.

It helps that this segment starts getting interesting at the half-way mark, unlike some of the more lackluster episodes that suddenly spring the good stuff on us around the 3/4 mark.

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Best line from segment (said by Star Butterfly): “Oh yeah, you cover up those dark secrets!”

Final Grade: B-

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Best honorable mention line from episode (said by Marco Diaz, in The Ponyhead Show): “I never got to show off my Dad’s recipe for tortas ahogadas!”

Well, one story killed by Ponyhead, and another that gives some intriguing mystery to Eclipsa’s character.

Next, we return to the inter-dimensional store Quest Buy (for the final time?), in Out of Business. Then, Marco pays a visit to Kelly, in Kelly’s World. See you soon for the next review!

Star Wars Celebration Chicago – The Place to be for Star Wars Cosplay

When I attended the 2013 and 2017 D23 Expo’s in California, I was surprised by a number of Disney-related cosplays I saw, most notably some that were incredibly creative, and would surely never be seen outside of a Disney-related fan event.

Going to Star Wars Celebration Chicago, I was pretty sure I’d see plenty of the same when it came to a galaxy far far away, and I was not disappointed. Here are some cosplays I managed to snap pictures of, many of them characters you probably won’t see outside of a Star Wars convention setting.

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Sometimes it doesn’t take much to make an entertaining costume. This person dressed up as the island of Ahch-to from The Last Jedi, complete with multiple Porgs.

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I had a feeling I might see some characters from the film Spaceballs, and I was right! There were quite a few people who came dressed as Barf like this fellow here (though didn’t see a single Lone Star!).

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Seeing minor characters is always surprising, and when I saw Larma D’Acy from The Last Jedi walk over to a booth, I had to snap a quick picture (she addresses the Resistance members of Leia’s ship after much of the command has been destroyed by the First Order).

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A real “old-man Skywalker,” if ever there was one. You don’t want to know what he was wagging his finger at me about!

 

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There were a number of Boba Fett cosplays, but this guy was going all-out to resemble the Kenner action figure from the 80’s (right down to the paint-scheme). He would even pose his arms as if he had no elbow joints!

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There were a number of ‘men-in-suits-with-stormtrooper-helmets’ walking about, but this Hamilton-related mash-up was quite eye-catching.

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This fellow didn’t speak English, but he did an amazing job on his battle-damaged Darth Vader cosplay, from the video game, The Force Unleashed.

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Many know that Frank Oz is the voice of both Yoda and Grover, but this was the first time I had seen a mash-up of the two characters (would that make this fellow Yover, or Groda?)!

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My first D23 Expo had me surprised how it wasn’t just youngsters dressing up, and the same held true at Celebration. This woman was dressed as an Imperial Technician.

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I decided to have some fun, and dress up as George Lucas. Imagine my surprise, when I met another George (on the left!) who seemed to have also done his homework! Of the different George’s I saw this weekend, he gets my vote as the best representation of The Maker!

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One character I enjoyed from Episode I, was Captain Panaka of Naboo. I was pleasantly surprised to see this fellow had dressed in his red-and-blue uniform.

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There were a number of Emperor Palpatine’s to be seen, but I liked this guy’s yellowed teeth and demeanor. He even told me how he had sent one Vader to fetch him something…and Vader had complied!

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Given we were dealing with Lucasfilm Ltd productions, I expected to see some Indiana Jones cosplays, but was very surprised when I encountered Dr Jones AND Willie Scott, from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom!

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I was just as surprised to also encounter Short Round from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom! He even showed me one of the Sankara stones from Dr Jones’ knapsack!

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Did you know Daft Punk were part of the Empire Strikes Back’s Norwegian filming unit? Well, they got the jackets, so it must be true!

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I was hoping to see some more Rose Tico’s at this year’s convention. Out of all of them, I felt this girl pulled off the look very well.

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One of the highlights of Solo, was Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian. This young man definitely looked the part, right down to that “trust me” smile on his face.

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Aside from Lucas, one of the other recognizable behind-the-scenes people to the SW fandom, is Dave Filoni, who helped create the Clone Wars and Rebels TV shows. This guy had a Filoni-style black hat, and he even fooled a few people into thinking he was the real-deal.

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These two are wearing original cosplay garments, inspired by the elitists on Canto Bight in The Last Jedi. Seems they’re checking out the upcoming Galaxy’s Edge Droid Depot, looking for some tech to weaponize and sell across the galaxy.

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Word is this person won the Celebration‘s costume contest. This is a similar type of droid that was seen in The Force Awakens, walking outside Maz Kanata’s place.

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It was exciting seeing how well some people resembled certain characters. This guy’s Count Dooku was spot-on!

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A most unexpected mash-up, was this Tron-style Jedi, complete with neon lightsaber!

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Another character that has rarely been brought to life, is the Dianoga from the Death Star’s trash compactor. It’s eye-stalk had the ability to swivel around.

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A most unconventional cosplay, are these blue-milk men I encountered. The one on the right is also wearing a Blue Harvest patch (which was the codename for Return of the Jedi during it’s production!).

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There were a number of great dresses based on Padme’s attire from the prequels, but I decided to post this woman’s version of her picnic dress from Attack of the Clones. I do like the airy, Shakespearean quality of the design.

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There were a number of Rey’s on the convention floor, but this little girl trying to administer a Force-push had me quickly snap a pic!

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This woman was one of several people dressed as a Canto Bight Police Officer from The Last Jedi. Her helmet even had the light-up designation over the visor!

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I originally just wanted a picture with just the elder Leia, but she insisted I photograph her friends too (she even sounded a little like Carrie Fisher!).

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This fellow is probably the closest many of us will get to meeting Alec Guinness. His uncanny resemblance had me quickly rush over and utter “hello there,” to get his attention and a picture!

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I save my favorite cosplay for last, and for this show, it was this guy who was spot-on as Chirrut Imwe, from Rogue One! He had his eyes closed when I approached, but when he opened them, and I saw the cloudy blue circles, I felt I had chanced upon a really dedicated cosplayer. I’ve seen a number of other people online also be bowled over by his resemblance to Donnie Yen. Excellent work!

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There were plenty more cosplays I wanted to post, but I’ve made it a rule to limit the picture count to 30. There was some wonderful dress-work regarding Amidala’s dresses, and even some great family cosplay groupings I saw. It’s often exciting to see when a whole family gets in on the fun.

If any of you readers are the cosplayers I snapped pics of, please leave a comment! Any tidbits about making your costumes, or stories about their creation, are always welcome!

Episode Review: Star vs the Forces of Evil (Season 4, Episode 5) – Yada Yada Berries / Down By The River

After a more “intimate” episode, the fifth episode of Star vs the Forces of Evil’s fourth season, attempts to show us more of what is happening to the world of mewmans and monsters.

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– Yada Yada Berries –

During a breakfast get-together for local monsters, Eclipsa is almost turned to stone when yada yada berries are found in her oatmeal! Incensed by this attempt on the Queen’s life, Star and Marco set out to find the culprit.

The style of this episode is one of those “whodunit” affairs, with Star and Marco following leads, interrogating suspects, and looking for clues. While there is a little humor mined from Star being overly-dramatic at times looking for the culprit, the whole affair feels a little, ‘meh.’

It is during the end of the episode, that we get into some more storytelling regarding how the mewman population heavily distrusts Eclipsa and the changes she has been making. I wish there could have been a bit more focus on this part of the storyline. Most of the mewman population we see are in general “angry mob” mode like we’ve seen on The Simpsons. We do see Eclipsa making an effort to get to know the local monster population by having breakfast with them, yet one would hope she would attempt some sort of event to try and resolve the issues that the mewmans may have with her, on a more personal level.

An okay story at best, but one where it felt like there could have been a much stronger story to be told instead of the whodunit mystery angle.

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Best line from segment (said by Star Butterfly): “Lookin’ for some answers…and ah’m gunna get em!”

Final Grade: C+

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– Down By The River –

When a mewman family known as the Maizley’s find their house repossessed by it’s original monster-owner (thanks to a new decree by Queen Eclipsa), they set out to find a new home. Their journey leads them into the nearby forest, where they encounter (former Queen) Moon Butterfly, and (former King) River Johansen.

The episode wastes little time in turning this into an “annoying neighbors” storyline, as everything the Maizley’s attempt to do, soon begins to grate on Moon’s nerves. This is definitely a new side of Moon we haven’t seen before, but I would have preferred if the story didn’t get so heavy-handed with the “annoying family” gags.

The most notable bit of going overboard, is with the naivete of the Maizley family. They are totally oblivious to the fact that their former gigantic house was once owned by monsters, and the humor of them being unknowingly annoying at times, wore on me as deeply as it did on Moon herself. It was established early in the series that Mewni was not exactly a paradise for the non-royals, but this episode makes it seem like Moon Butterfly’s rule provided for the people, more than we could ever have imagined beyond the early depictions of the kingdom.

What did end up saving the episode for me, was getting to see Moon and River playing off each other. It is rare to see Moon lose her temper (or mind), and we also get to see some nice scenes of her and River cooperating, when the irritation of the Maizley’s brings them closer together.

It was also fun to see a monster from last season reappear as the house’s new owner. Plus, he’s another example of the monsters not showing any sort of malice towards mewmans (even going so far as to pack up the Maizley’s belongings before sending them on their way).

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Best line from segment (said by River Johansen): “You don’t suppose The Hookman got them, do you?”

Final Grade: B-

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Best honorable mention line from episode (said by Star Butterfly, in Yada Yada Berries): “B-b-b-but I wanted to crack the case!”

This episode seemed to show us how things are changing for a number of denizens within the kingdom, though sometime not for the best.

In the next episode, we get the return of Flying Princess Ponyhead in The Ponyhead Show, and the return of another of Mewni’s royal families, in Surviving the Spider-Bites. See you soon for the next Star vs the Forces of Evil review.

Episode Review: Star vs the Forces of Evil (Season 4, Episode 4) – Ransomgram / Lake House Fever

Star vs the Forces of Evil‘s last episode, returned us to the planet Mewni, now being run by Eclipsa and the monsters who were once shunned by the Mewman population. With the fourth episode, we pull back from the larger storyline, and focus a little more intimately on Star Butterfly, and Marco Diaz.

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– Ransomgram –

Marco receives a ransomgram that his dragoncycle named Nachos, is being held captive by the Neverzonians. Star eagerly tags along for the journey, but is surprised to find one of his other-dimensional friends along for the ride: a warrior named Brunzetta.

The season 2 episode Running with Scissors, was one of the most mind-bending storylines the show attempted, when it was revealed how Marco quested for over 16 years in alternate dimensions, before returning back to Earth (aged 30 years, but in his teenage body). We were never privy to any of those adventures, but this storyline gives us a taste of what he encountered during those days!

Star is mainly along for the ride in this storyline, but it’s fun watching her fan-girl out to both Marco and Brunzetta (seeing her tongue-tied at times, reminded me of Gravity Falls’ Mabel Pines). Though it is rather strange seeing her almost like a child amongst the ‘more mature’ characters, she still manages to have enough power to hold her own in several of the battles we see.

Brunzetta is also a fun new character added to the show’s supporting players. She manages to trade barbs pretty well with Marco, and her skills during some of the action sequences are pretty sweet (though this will probably be the only time we’ll see her before the season ends).

The numerous action sequences, a new dimension and a new character, along with Star being humorously fan-girlish, makes Ransomgram one of the most entertaining stories so far this season!

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Best line from segment (said by Star Butterfly): “Abs dimension.”

Final Grade: B+

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– Lake House Fever –

Star spends an afternoon with Tom and his family at their lake house, but a dangerous storm prevents her from meeting up with Marco and his family. Star then spends time with Tom’s family, but finds his demon mother Wrathmelior…to be a little hostile towards her.

While we encountered Tom’s family (the Lucitor’s) very briefly last season, this is the first time we get to see a bit more about who they are in a less-formal setting.

There is some minor comic-relief in the form of Tom’s relations, notably with his great-grandfather, Relicor. It’s a little strange that Star has no idea who Relicor is, given that she dated Tom for awhile (I guess maybe that was before Tom got in touch with his emotional side and opened up more?).

There are also some revelations that tie into the end of Season 3, in some ways I didn’t expect. Star seems be caught in the middle of an emotional triangle, with her feelings for Marco, and also for Tom. The episode tries to get her to come to terms with her feelings, but it’s hard to tell if she has truly done so (she is a teenager, after all). It is also surprising to me, that the maturity Tom went through in the last season, has not been ret-conned! During the story, he handles much of their conversation about some past events, in a very mature and understanding fashion.

Despite the humor being a bit lackluster, the rather serious turn when it comes to Star having to confront her emotions, twisted the story in an interesting direction. Plus, it does make me wonder what the rest of the season has in store, when it comes to Tom and Star.

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Best line from segment (said by Tom): “‘Milkshake,’ is totally a word, Relicor!”

Final Grade: B

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Best honorable mention line from episode (said by Princess Turdina, in Ransomgram): “Let’s dismantle the patriarchy!”

The next episode, looks to plunge us right back into the New Monster Order in Mewni, with the segments Yada Yada Berries, and Down By The River. See you soon for the next episode review.

Retro Recaps: The Twilight Zone (Season 3, Episode 29) – Four O’Clock

While there would often be good people within the Twilight Zone who found themselves in circumstances beyond their control, there were also plenty of jerks to be found as well.

The episode that we’re covering today on Retro Recaps, isn’t one of their more memorable ones, but it still manages to rattle around inside my head from time-to-time, with it’s subject matter, and examinations on humanity.

I speak, of Four O’Clock.

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In a cramped apartment, lives Oliver Crangle (Theodore Bikel), and his parrot, Pete.

TZ329-1Oliver spends the better part of his day, calling up employers and writing them letters, claiming they have unsavory individuals who should be fired immediately. He also promises to follow-up, and be sure that his “requests” have been carried out.

Hearing Pete squawk for a “nut,” Oliver complies, and then goes over to the nearby window. Looking down at the people below, he mutters aloud about all the ‘evil people’ around him, and how they must be dealt with. However, he feels that his phone calls and threats, are not going far enough.

Looking at a nearby clock, Oliver declares that at four o’clock, he will ‘destroy evil.’

It is then that the camera whip-pans to the right, and Rod Serling addresses us:

That’s Oliver Crangle, a dealer in petulance and poison. He’s rather arbitrarily chosen four o’clock as his personal Götterdämmerung, and we are about to watch the metamorphosis of a twisted fanatic, poisoned by the gangrene of prejudice, to the status of an avenging angel, upright and omniscient, dedicated and fearsome. Whatever your clocks say, it’s four o’clock, and wherever you are, it happens to be…The Twilight Zone.

TZ329-3As Oliver goes over some papers, his landlady Mrs Williams (Moyna MacGill) drops off a package. When she inquires about what he does, he reveals how he collects information on people, to determine whether or not they are ‘evil.’ If he figures they are not, he feels it is his duty to guide those who are ‘misled,’ or ‘naive.’

He also reveals to Mrs Williams, a card of information he has collected on her, which causes her to quickly leave the room.

Soon after, a woman named Mrs Lucas (Phyllis Love) comes and confronts Oliver. She has come to talk to him about his incessant calling and writing letters to the hospital her husband works for, demanding he be fired.

Oliver claims he has information that her husband allowed a patient to die, but Mrs Lucas counters that the ward he was in was understaffed the night it happened. However, her pleas for understanding fall on deaf ears.

TZ329-2“Your husband, is an evil man!” bellows Oliver. “I will not put up with evil in any form! Communists, subversives, thieves, harlots…evil! All of them. And I will not countenance evil.”

Going over to the window, he looks down again at the people outside. As he starts comparing them to bugs and bacteria…he suddenly begins to laugh in an unpleasant manner.

“That’s what I’ll do,” he says. “I’ll turn all the evil people…into little ones!”

As he prattles on about making the evil people of the world two feet tall, Mrs Lucas finally has enough, and leaves.

We next see Oliver dressed in a suit, awaiting a visitor. As he does so, he looks at a framed copy of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

TZ329-4Reading aloud a few lines, Crangle underlines the phrase, ‘it is rather for us to be dedicated to the great task remaining before us.’ He also crosses out the words, ‘all men are created equal,’ with a disgusted growl in his voice.

Eventually, a Mr Hall (Linden Chiles) arrives from the FBI. As he sits down, Crangle tells how he has also notified Police and Fire departments, but doesn’t fully trust calling anyone in Washington DC…claiming that ‘The Reds’ have taken over the government, as part of a ‘worldwide conspiracy.’

Crangle then tells Mr Hall about his plans regarding four o’clock, and Hall calmly asks how this strange little man will make it happen.

Oliver claims that he merely has to ‘will it’ to happen. He then tells how he even considered ‘willing airplane propellers to go limp,’ before prattling on about how making all evil people little, will render them unable to function in a normal world.

TZ329-5It is about this time that Mr Hall asks Oliver, if he has ever sought out any psychiatric help for himself.

“Help?” asks Oliver, incredulously. “Why should I need help? I’m not evil!”

It is then that Mr Hall decides to take his leave, but claims that the FBI is not planning to do anything regarding what he has just heard.

This response causes Oliver’s eyes to narrow, and he now assumes this man is also working for ‘The Reds!’ As Hall leaves, Oliver yells after him, claiming that he’ll soon be two feet tall!

Soon, it is almost four o’clock, and Oliver happily delights in the transformations he imagines are happening outside his window.

“Nut,” calls out Pete.

TZ329-6“Certainly Peter,” smiles Oliver. “This is kind of a celebration.”

As Crangle turns towards the peanut jar on the window sill…he suddenly finds that he is now two feet tall!

Pete utters the word “nut” one more time, as we see Crangle weeping at what has happened to him, and Serling delivers the closing monologue:

At four o’clock, an evil man made his bed and lay in it, a pot called a kettle black, a stone-thrower broke the windows of his glass house. You look for this one under ‘F’ for fanatic and ‘J’ for justice, in the Twilight Zone.

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Four O’Clock is one of those Twilight Zone episodes that seems to have an interesting idea going for it, but it’s execution feels a bit lackluster.

TZ329-7Theodore Bikel portrays Oliver as a fanatically-driven individual, but one is left to ponder what possessed Crangle to go down the path he has chosen. Was it too much time on his hands? Was there something in his past that affected him to seek out ‘the truth,’ and that personal investigating became an overpowering obsession with him? Given his penchant for filing and cataloging  information, was he a government clerk that lost his mind?

I’m all for some episodes of the show leaving things unanswered, but when it comes to Crangle, one almost wants a little more information to feel grounded in his ‘reality.’

Oliver’s talk about having the power to ‘will things to happen,’ almost makes him sound like an adult version of Anthony Fremont, from one of The Twilight Zone’s more famous episodes, It’s A Good Life. Anthony had an otherworldly power that held sway over his parents and a small town, and he could wish/will things to happen all with his mind.

TZ329-8However, Crangle’s ‘powers’ do not go quite as far as Anthony’s did (there is no ‘wishing into the cornfield’ when it comes to Crangle getting rid of nosy subversives). For most of the episode, we’ve seen no sign of Oliver possessing any powers, and we can just as easily side with the man from the FBI, thinking he has mentally snapped (in more ways than one).

The episode is based off of a short story by Price Day, and I sought it out afterwards to see how it compared/contrasted with Serling’s adaptation.

Price’s story does have Oliver with some powers, but they are not permanent. He obtains them from time-to-time, and must use them quickly, or they will disappear until the next time he obtains them.

TZ329-9Price’s story is a bit more straight-forward than the episode it’s based on. His version of Crangle is not a man obsessed with poring over information. He just figures there is evil in the world, and he wants to get rid of it using the powers when they come to him again. There is also a parrot named Pet (instead of Pete like in the show), who also makes  requests for a “nut” from time-to-time in the story.

The angle of using information and persons giving into unhealthy paranoia, has been reflected in quite a few of the show’s more memorable episodes, such as The Monsters are Due on Maple Street. Following the Red Scare of the 1950’s, Serling seems intent in a number of his scripts to remind people to use their brains, before jumping to unhealthy conclusions…a sentiment that many of us wish some would heed, in this day of information overload.

Given the recent revival of the Twilight Zone by CBS, one could almost see Four O’Clock reworked for today’s audiences. It would be easy to see an Oliver Crangle-like character acting as an internet troll, using social media as his weapon to weed out the people he feels are ‘evil.’ One could imagine him bombarding people with incessant messages or memes, maybe even recruiting others to act as his ‘avenging angels,’ never thinking for a moment what his actions could be doing to those on the other side of a computer monitor or smartphone.

Episode Review: Star vs the Forces of Evil (Season 4, Episode 3) – Moon Remembers / Swim Suit

After the first two episodes of Season 4 of Star vs the Forces of Evil, the series has now returned to it’s regular two-story-per-episode structure. The questing storyline is now over, and it looks like it’s time for the show to settle down, and see what the New Monster Order over Mewni has in store for Star Butterfly, and the rest of the kingdom.

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– Moon Remembers –

After being rescued from the Pie Folk, Moon Butterfly’s memory is still in the process of coming back to her

Star and Marco take both her Mom and (reluctant) Father to meet with Eclipsa, though Star is fearful of how her mother will react to the decisions she’s made in her absence (such as giving the royal wand to Eclipsa, and putting monsters in power).

Star and Marco take more of a back-seat to this episode, as does Star’s father, River (who once again is saddled with being “the comic relief”).

The highlight is seeing Moon and Eclipsa interacting again. It was Eclipsa who was largely responsible for Moon’s absence at the end of Season 3, and it was nice to see her try to make amends for what happened, even if Moon doesn’t know the full set of circumstances.

I welcome storylines that manage to slow down and show us character growth, and seeing Moon and Eclipsa together again, reminded me of some of my favorite moments from Season 3. I do also like that the storyline ends on a questionable note, as if not everything can be tied up nice-and-neat when it comes to some circumstances.

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Best line from segment (said by Marco Diaz): “What, I can’t say Globgor now? Glossaryck said nothing but the word Globgor for, like the last year!”

Final Grade: B

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– Swim Suit –

Now that they’ve found her mother, Star wants to spend a day at the beach with Marco, and Tom. However, things get put on hold when Eclipsa’s request to have Rhombulus free her crystal-encased husband Globgor, leads to the two getting into a heated battle in the castle.

The theme of this story seems to carry over a little from the last one, given that there is an expected maturity and decorum one hopes for in regards to Eclipsa being the new Queen…but Rhombulus is his usual stand-offish self, and dead-set against accepting the New Monster Order.

Marco and Tom are along for the ride, though mainly for minor comic relief. There are a number of gags involving Marco trying to find a pair of swim trunks, but this only gave me a few chuckles.

This story shows Star struggling to do something she wants to do, but finding herself trying to be the mature one in the situation between Rhombulus and Eclipsa. I found this to be one of the highlights of the story, and serves as a reminder that adults can sometimes be as immature as children (and young people can sometimes be the more mature ones in some cases).

We also see an interesting dynamic of Eclipsa trying to be reasonable, but also letting her emotions almost get the better of her. Plus, there’s plenty of new magic we get to see her unleash with her wand/umbrella.

Rhombulus is his typical bombastic self, though I was surprised to see the writers give him a few funny moments. There also is a tie-in mention to a Season 2 reveal, but along with most references on this show, I’m not expecting it to be anything more than just a little aside that will get lost in the season’s storytelling.

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Best line from segment (said by Rhombulus in Eclipsa’s body): “Why does my face have so many holes in it!?”

Final Grade: B-

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Best honorable mention line from episode (said by Eclipsa, in Moon Remembers): “Oh I’m sorry. I just got lost in a solo.”

Compared to the previous episodes, episode three makes me eager to see what the storytelling will be regarding the changes that will be coming to Mewni…and if Eclipsa really can be trusted.

In the next episode, Star has to help Marco deal with a Ransomgram from another dimension, and also spends a day with Tom and his family, in Lake House Fever. See you soon for the next episode review.