Due to the weather this past week, no review is available today. My apologies.
Work more or less interfered with having enough consecutive hours for watching the planned series. Lost in Translation will return next week.
The planned review turned out to be a movie I’ve already reviewed. Instead of rewriting the review, it’s easier to link to the 1999 remake of The Mummy. A new review will be posted next week.
This week, a bit of an experiment. Some time back, Lost in Translation reviewed the 2019 Amazon adaptation of the Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett novel, Good Omens. It’s a book I’ve enjoyed and have read many times. Given that, I decided to try something new and read along wit the 2014 BBC Radio 4 dramatisation of the novel.
Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch was first published in 1990 and was a comedy about Revelations and Armageddon. The cast includes angels, demons, the Antichrist, humans, and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, though the focus is on several groups. The first group is the angel Aziraphale and the demon Crowley, both of whom have been on Earth since its creation on October 21st, 4004BC. The next key group are the descendants of Agnes Nutter, the latest being Anathema Device. The third group is the Them, one of Tadfield’s two pre-teen gangs, consisting of Adam, the Antichrist, and his friends, Pepper, Brian, and Wensleydale. Then there’s the Witchfinder Army, consisting of Witchfinder Sergeant Shadwell and new recruit, Witchfinder Private Newt Pulsifer, with Madame Tracy, Shadwell’s neighbour. Finally, there’s the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Death, War, Famine, and Pollution, with the Four Bikers of the Apocalypse, Big Ted, Greaser, Pigbog, and Scuzz. On the sidelines, a host of angels and demons who wait for the Final Battle.
The story covers the final days of the Earth as the forces of Heaven and Hell amass and Aziraphale and Crowley try to find the Antichrist, who they lost. The core idea is, what if the Antichrist was raised to be human incarnate? What if the Antichrist grew up without divine or infernal influence? The novel also takes a humourous look at serious topics, like the environment, nuclear power, the nature of power, and raising children. The means of highlighting these issues is to parody several sources, including The Exorcist, New Age beliefs, the Books of Genesis and Revelations, beliefs of the Seventeenth Century, among others.
In 2014, with the popularity of the novel and the authors, BBC Radio 4 produced the radio dramatisation of Good Omens. It aired from December 22-27, six episodes total, featuring a full cast. The series starred Mark Heap as Aziraphale, Peter Serafinowicz as Crowley, Jim Norton as Death, Adam Thomas Wright as Adam, Josie Lawrence as Agnes Nutter, Charlotte Richie as Anathema Device, Colin Morgan as Newton PulsiferClive Russell as Sgt. Shadwell, and Julia Deakin as Madame Tracy.
The experiment with the dramatisation was to try to follow along with the novel. The idea was to see what was dropped, what was re-written for the new medium, and what was changed. What wasn’t expected was the changing of when scenes occurred in the narrative. What works in text doesn’t always work in radio. Case in point, the use of footnotes, extensively used in Good Omens, giving extra details about a situation. It’s easy enough to add a footnote at the bottom of a page. For radio or television, the information needs to come out in a different way, such as dialogue.
As an adaptation, the dramatisation uses most of the novel. Unlike the Amazon mini-series, the dramatisation gets into what the Apocalyptic Horsepersons were doing before being summoned. War is a war correspondent known for being at the spark of a new conflict. Famine runs a chain of fast food restaurants with no nutritional value, which isn’t unusual, and is launching a new food substitute called FOOD™ that has zero calories. Pollution spends his time at formerly pristine nature sites. Death has never left, and appears at a diner playing a trivia game until he gets stumped on when Elvis Presley died. “I NEVER LAID A FINGER ON HIM.”
The Four Bikers of the Apocalypse remain in the dramatisation. Cut from the Amazon series due to time limits and cast size, the Four who aren’t in Revelations do show up, as adding extra voices and then killing them off in a rain of fish on the the M25 Sound effects on radio are less expensive than full visual special effects on screen. Likewise, Elvis is in the dramatisation, working as a short order cook, thus why Death couldn’t answer when he died. Gone are anything that is purely visual; while anything that can be done using dialogue or sound effects could be kept. That means the trees in Brazil undergoing a rapid growth and Hastur devouring an outbound telemarketing centre were dropped.
The dramatisation did start jumping around in the book in episodes three and four. It doesn’t hurt the story, though. The scenes aren’t critical; changing the order they appear doesn’t affect the overall plot. Moving the introduction of the Apocalyptic Horsepersons to just before they ride together means they’re fresh in audience’s minds. Other scenes are more informational, providing details without advancing the plot. Once everything is set in motion, the scenes follow what is written in the book, though some scenes are in parallel with others. The dramatisation then returns to the order in the novel for the climax as all the different groups come together in the US Air Force base outside Tadfield.
The experiment didn’t play out as expected, but a dramatisation isn’t an audio book. A repeat of the experiment will have to be tried with a proper audio book to see if one can work to prepare for a review. Radio dramas have their own requirements that may not map ideally to an audio book, but they both depend on the audio component.
As an adaptation, the dramatisation works. Some scenes are lost, but more of the novel is kept in the radio drama than in the Amazon series. Both do manage to capture the core of Good Omens, balancing the nature of the end of the world with the right amount of humour. It’s not an audio book, but the BBC Radio 4 dramatisation is worth a listen.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has had huge successes since the release of Iron Man in 2008. With two exceptions, this success came while using B-list characters. The exceptions are Captain America, mostly known through being a patriotic superhero, and the Incredible Hulk, thanks to the 1978 TV series starring Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno. Thanks to some questionable deals made to keep the company afloat in the past, Marvel Studios didn’t have access to some better known characters like Spider-Man and the X-Men, both of whom had a number of animated series.
How did Marvel start dominating? As mentioned, Iron Man, while a member of the Avengers, wasn’t a well known character outside comic fandom. Tony Stark also has numerous flaws, like many Marvel heroes. He’s a hero despite the flaws. Marvel Studios did the one thing that could get positive attention – casting Robert Downey, Jr. Downey was ideal casting; he and Stark share a problem with addiction. At the time of casting, Downey had gotten through his addiction and recovered, a journey that Stark has troubles with in the comics. Downey took to the role, providing a human side to Stark, despite the flaws.
Casting continued in the same vein for the rest of the films leading up to The Avengers in 2012. The leads and supporting of the movies leading up to the 2012 film all fit the roles cast. Even in the following phases and into the TV series, the casting remained strong. Casting choices might be debatable at times, but the roles have been filled well. Casting, though, isn’t the only part of the success.
Casting is just the surface. Another element helping in Marvel’s success on the silver screen is the types of stories told. The Marvel movies aren’t just superhero films. They’ve been another genre with superheroes added. Iron Man was a techno-thriller with superheroes. Captain America: The First Avenger was a war movie with superheroes. It’s sequel, Captain America and the Winter Soldier was a political thriller with superheroes. Guardians of the Galaxy was a space opera with superheroes. Ant Man was a heist movie with superheroes. The stories are wide ranging. Only the Avengers titled films – The Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame – are pure superhero films. They are also the major crossovers, where all the characters appear onscreen together. This isn’t quite a parallel to the comics where crossovers affect every title and Iron Man can appear in his own title, Avengers, and guest star in a Spider-Man title all in the same month. It is close enough, but the crossover is self-contained except for some plot points being set up in the movies leading up to the instalment.
The mix of genres lets each Marvel movie look and feel different, even if the same beats are being used. Captain America had a different tone compared to Ant Man. If someone doesn’t like the genre of film, there’s still the draw of superheroes, or the choice of skipping in favour of a preferred genre. The additional genres gives audiences something else to look forward to, and be able to follow the plot even when the superheroics go off the beaten path.
This mix carries over to the Disney+ series. Wandavision uses classic sitcoms to tell its story. Hawkeye is essentially a Hallmark Christmas special with superheroes. The current series, Moon Knight begins as a horror series. There’s more to the series than superheroic battles; the fights are icing to a multi-layered cake.
The use of B-listers is another facet of Marvel’s success. As mentioned above, with the exception of the Hulk and Captain America, Marvel Studio’s success has come despite the use of lesser known characters. However, since they are lesser known, that gives the cast, crew, writers, and directors a free hand to explore the characters and the setting and put a new twist in without worrying about canon. Moon Knight is the ultimate blank slate here; the character has had a number of different origins that at times conflicted that the TV series can pick and choose details and not worry about getting anything wrong.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been dominating the box office since the release of Iron Man. The secret to Marvel’s success is to have interesting, flawed characters in well written works where the story melds another genre with superheroics. While there are rumblings that the general public is getting tired of superheroics, audiences still go out to watch Marvel’s cinematic works, in part because the films aren’t just about superheroes being superheroes.
The Star Wars franchise and Dave Filoni in particular have had a number of successful animated series. Beginning with Star Wars: The Clone Wars and continuing through Star Wars: Rebels, the animated series fill in gaps between films. There is a large gap in the Star Wars timeline between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, one that has some unanswered questions.
In 2021, Filoni added another animated series to the Galaxy Far, Far Away, Star Wars: The Bad Batch, featuring a squad of clone troopers after the end of the Clone Wars. Dee Bradley Baker returns as the voices of all the clones, including the titular Bad Batch, Hunter, Tech, Crosshair, Wrecker, and Echo. Michelle Ang joins the Batch as Omega. Supporting the Batch are Gewndoline Yeo as Nala Se, Rhea Perlman as Cid, with Noshir Dalal as Vice-Admiral Rampart, Corey Burton as Cad Bane, and Ming-Na Wen as Fennec Shand[https://psychodrivein.com/lost-in-translation-408-the-book-of-boba-fett/].
The series begins with Order 66, the extermination of the Jedi, being given. Clone Force 99, the Bad Batch themselves, have been called in to reinforce a Jedi Knight, her padawan, and clone infantry against a phalanx of battle droids backed by tanks. The newcomers take a different approach in dealing with the clankers, first dropping a boulder on them, then using non-standard tactics within the midst of the droids. When Order 66 is broadcast, the regular clones turn on the Jedi Knight and her padawan, but Clone Force 99 is unaffected. The Jedi Knight falls, but the padawan escapes, with Hunter following. The chase goes deeper into the forest and ends at a cliff overlooking a river. Hunter tries to reassure the padawan, but Crosshair is following the Order. The padawan escapes.
Clone Force 99 is composed of clones who were mutated in embryo This mutation interferes with the inhibitor chip all clones have to ensure loyalty and programming. The exception is Echo, who suffered injuries in an explosion resulting in replacement of body parts with cybernetic equivalents with additional slicing gear built in. When they return to Kamino, they meet Omega, a young girl who is being mentored by the Kaminoan scientist and creator of the clones, Nala Se.
Omega takes a shine to the Batch, especially Hunter. She also has her own secret; she, too, is a clone of Jango Fett, one with pure DNA, the only other clone to have that other than Boba Fett. Omega also gets along well Wrecker, who has a child-like approach to life. Echo and Tech take time to warm up to the girl, but Hunter takes her in like a daughter.
The change over from Republic to Empire brings into question the worth of having a clone army versus recruited and drafted troops. The latter are cheaper, but require training, while the clones start with experience and keep their edge through additional training and actual wartime experience. Admiral Tarkin is leaning towards draftees; financially cheaper and just as easy to control.
Clone Force 99 escapes Kamino with Omega but without Crosshair. Crosshair reported Hunter’s failure to execute Order 66. As Crosshair remarks, “A good soldier follows orders.” In his eyes, Hunter has stopped being a good soldier. Hunter’s view is that he and Clone Force 99 are loyal to the Republic, not the Empire. As the Batch tries to make a post-war living, they discover just how bad things are getting already under the Empire’s rule. Mandatory citizen codes, travel restrictions, the loss of freedoms, nothing that Hunter believed he was fighting for as part of the Republic’s army.
After running into Captain Rex, the Batch realizes that their inhibitor chips need to be removed. Wrecker’s activates after a head injury, and he barely fights the programming before getting it out. To help make ends meet afterwards, the Batch takes on jobs from Cid, a cantina owner who has shady contacts. She provides a cut of the profits, and takes a liking to the team. This give the Batch a chance to figure out what they want to do and what is important.
The Bad Batch shows that the animation team has improved their skills greatly since the original animated Clone Wars movie. The movement is more fluid, with a few scenes photo-realistic, thanks to the focus on a clone or a stormtrooper inside a building. The writing keeps the action going, with the audience sympathy on the side of Clone Force 99. Dee Bradley Baker spends a lot of screen time talking to himself, and he manages to make each clone recognizable.
The series does answer some questions about what happened to the clones after the war. It also answers the question about the Kaminoans and their ability to create clones. The design of equipment shows the beginning of the change to what was seen in A New Hope. There are a few plot points being set up for Rebels and even The Book of Boba Fett. There’s room for more after the end of the first season, with the Empire growing in might.
The Bad Batch also shows what the Empire’s senior military officers think about the clones. Crosshair’s repetition of “Good soldiers follow orders,” isn’t much different from the battle droids’ “What can you do? Orders are orders.” The clones are disposable. The programming allows for wartime atrocities. Good soldiers follow lawful orders. They don’t shell hospitals or shoot unarmed civilians. However, Imperial stormtroopers aren’t much better. They’re not necessarily programmed; some are True Believers.
The Bad Batch acts as the closing chapter of the Republic, showing what happens after Revenge of the Sith. There is a lot going on, and the series delivers. For an animated series on Disney+, The Bad Batch explores weighty topics and while the series can tiptoe gingerly around some of the ideas, it doesn’t paint a rosy picture of clones living out the rest of their lives in a retirement home. Ultimately, it shows that, while the decision makers wouldn’t agree, the clones aren’t disposable. The series continues the feel from the end of The Clone Wars, with the Empire rising and setting up for Rebels and A New Hope.
Marvel Comics’ has an eclectic team with the Avengers. Brought together because of the threat of Kang the Conqueror, six heroes pulled together to defeat the villain. Hulk was the first to leave, but not the last. Of the original team, Captain America was the last to remain as Iron Man, Thor, Giant Man, and Wasp all left for various reasons. Replacing them were the Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, and Hawkeye, all three of whom were once on the wrong side of the law. Siblings Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver were part of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Hawkeye, however, began his career as a plain criminal.
Clint Barton grew up as a carny. He grew up hard of hearing thanks to abuse from his father. In the carnival, Clint was trained by the villainous Swordsman to be a criminal. Clint took to archery, using trick arrows. However, he did turn his life around and impressed Cap enough to be invited to become an Avenger. When Cap left the team, Hawkeye stepped up to become its leader.
In his time as a superhero, Clint has taken on many names besides Hawkeye, including Goliath and Ronin. He is the utility infielder of the Avengers, capable of taking on any role needed, including leadership. Hawkeye started up a West Coast branch of the Avengers, consisting of his then-wife Mockingbird, Vision, the Scarlet Witch, Iron Man, Wonder Man, Tigra, and Hank Pym as a reservist. The team broke up, being replaced by Force Works, but eventually, even that disbanded and Hawkeye returned to being an Avenger.
After the Civil War, the Avengers at one point disappeared and were presumed dead. A group of teenagers with similar abilities, at least superficially, stepped up to take on the role of the missing heroes. Among them was Kate Bishop. Like Clint, Kate had no powers but had dedicated her life to being the best archer she could. When the team broke into the remains of Avengers Mansion, Kate grabbed some gear for herself, including Hawkeye’s bow and Mockingbird’s escrima sticks. The Young Avengers also had to deal with Kang the Conqueror, and managed to defeat the threat much like the original team.
It turned out that the Avengers weren’t dead. Clint found out about Kate and, as Ronin, tested her, then gave her a card with a date, time, and location. The pair teamed up to infiltrate a black market auction and managed to rob the robbers who were robbing the auction where the heads of several major Marvel crime organizations were attending. This act gets Clint and Kate on the wrong side of the Russian mob, notable for their track suits and their vocabulary mostly limited to, “bro.” In a fight against the track suits, one throws a dog into traffic, which did not sit well at all with Clint. He defeated the mob and took the dog to the vet, where he had to fight off the Russians again.
The 2012 Hawkeye series tells the tale of what happens to Clint, Kate, the dog, the Russians, the organized crime gangs, and how Clint learns that he doesn’t have to prove to anyone, including himself, that he belongs on the Avengers. Kate uses her skills to infiltrate Madame Masque’s organization, earning the wrath of the Contessa and of the local police. With help, Clint and Kate defeat the mob that says “Bro”, but are left with being targeted by the collective ire of Marvel’s criminal underworld.
During the lead up to Christmas of 2021, Disney+ aired Hawkeye, a six-part series featuring Clint Barton and Kate Bishop. Jeremy Renner reprises his role as Clint, having first played the character in the 2011 film, Thor, though uncredited, then again in the 2012 Avengers. Hailee Steinfield, who starred in Bumblebee and voiced Spider-Gwen in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, is Kate Bishop. The rest of the cast includes Linda Cardellini as Clint’s wife Laura, Vera Farmiga as Kate’s mother Eleanor, Tony Dalton as Eleanor’s fiancé Jack Duquesne, Alaqua Cox as Maya, Fra Free as Kazi, and Florence Pugh as Yelena.
The series begins in 2012 during the Chitauri invasion of New York City, a young Kate (played by Clara Stack), is in her parents’ home in Manhattan, not far from the fighting. Figures whiz by the windows, catching young Kate’s attention. Once she figures out what is happening, she runs downstairs, only to have a wall destroyed in front of her. As she stares at the battle, a Chitauri sees her and flies towards her. In the background, though, Hawkeye notices and leaps off the the building he’s on and fires an arrow to destroy the alien’s flying cycle. Kate notices who just saved her life.
In the years since, Kate pushed herself physically, winning archery and martial arts competitions. She wanted to be as good as her personal hero, Hawkeye. Kate gets volunteered by her mother to help at a charity. Not one to leave well enough alone and suspicious of her mother’s fiancé, she follows Jack down to the basement and discovers a black market auction. On offer, items removed from Avengers Mansion. A third party, the Tracksuit Mafia, aka the Russians who say “Bro,” attack. Meanwhile, Clint, is trying to have a good Christmas with his family, though Rogers: The Musical isn’t helping. He hears about the fighting, packs his kids into a cab, then rushes to find out what’s going on. At the core of the fight are three items, a watch and the sword and costume of Ronin, a hero known in criminal circles for killing gang members.
The Tracksuit Mafia manage to get the watch. Jack picks up Ronin’s sword, far cheaper than bidding on it, and Kate uses Ronin’s costume to hide her own identity. Clint sees the costume and goes after the new Ronin, only to be surprised that she’s a fan of his. He sends his kids on home ahead of him to deal with the new situation, with the goal of getting home before Christmas. He and Kate investigate, running into Maya and her Tracksuit Mafia, Yelena who has a beef against Clint over her sister Natasha, and a group of boffer LARPers.
The series takes its cues from the 2012 Hawkeye series. However, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has long gone in its own direction. Clint Barton is a former SHIELD agent, not a former carny. The Avengers have not died or gone into hiding. There are no Young Avengers. So some things do need to change. That said, the 2021 series still has elements that appeared in the comic. The Tracksuit Mafia, the Russians who say, “Bro,” are a main threat. Clint and Kate wind up sharing the “Hawkeye” moniker. The car chase in the third episode does feature four cars chasing Clint and Kate and a 1972 cherry red Challenger. However, it’s Kate firing the arrows, but she does still complain about Clint not labelling what each one is.
Both Clint and Kate have a character arc. His is to come to grips with his past, both being Ronin and the loss of Natasha Romanov. Kate learns that her family has secrets that need to be brought out to the light of day. Both learn how to work together, much to the Russian mob’s dismay.
The series also makes the best use of Christmas music since Die Hard. Traditional Christmas music and more modern classics like “Linus & Lucy” and “You’re a Mean One, Mr., Grinch” act at times to set the scene and other times to create a mood whiplash to drive home what happened.
While not a one-to-one adaptation of the 2012 comic series, the 2021 Hawkeye series keeps to the tone of the original, a mix of humour, action, and drama, with the main characters, Kate and Clint, recognizable. The credits use a similar art style to the covers of the 2012 comics. It’s not a perfect adaptation, but with the MCU going its own way, it comes close. As a series on its own merits, it is worth watching.
And if you watch the series, don’t turn off the credits at the end of the sixth and final episode. There is a mid-credits sequence worth watching for its audacity.
Due to a change in shift at my day job, Lost in Translation is taking this week off. See you next week! And stay tuned for some announcements.
The acquisition of Lucasfilm and the Star Wars franchise by Disney has led to solid TV series on Disney+. The Mandalorian set a standard that would be difficult for future series, such as Ahsoka and Kenobi to reach. The Book of Boba Fett was the first to face that challenge.
Boba Fett, the character, was first meant to appear in A New Hope as Jabba’s bodyguard, but the scene was cut for the initial 1977 release. The scene did get restored for the enhanced release, with a CGI Jabba superiposed over the human version. Fett’s first appearance was in the Star Wars Holiday Special in an animated segment. The bounty hunter’s first non-disavowed appearance was in The Empire Strikes Back, with Jeremy Bulloch playing the role. Fett didn’t have many speaking lines, but was a presence on screen. Fett returned in Return of the Jedi and met his match in the first Jedi trained since the end of the Clone Wars and his allies. Fett wound up rocketing into the belly of the Sarlacc, where he would be digested for a thousand years.
The prequel movies introduced Fett’s father, Jango. Jango Fett made his initial appearance in Attack of the Clones, being the base that the Kamoans used to create the Republic’s Clone Army. Jango and the clones were all portrayed by Temeura Morrison, with young Boba being played by Daniel Logan. Jango is able to fight a lone Jedi, Obi-Wan Kenobi, to a draw, but gets his head cut off by Mace Windu. Young Boba inherits Jango’s armour and gains a hatred against the Jedi.
The Book of Boba Fett begins with a flashback as Fett escapes the belly of the Sarlacc, an unknown amount of time after the end of Return of the Jedi. Exhausted after digging his way out of the Sarlacc and the sands of Tatooine, he is easy prey for Jawas who scavenge his armour. Left to die, Fett is discovered by Tuskan Raiders and taken prisoner, where he is held. In his present, Fett has his armour, as per the second season of The Mandalorian, and has taken over Jabba’s palace. His move to become the daimyo of the criminal syndicates in Mos Espa is opposed but three gangs that Jabba had under control. Worse, the mayor of the city, Mok Shaiz, is under the control of one of the gangs, the Pykes.
The series unfolds splitting screen time between Fett’s recovery and acceptance by the Tuskan Raiders and his moves to become the sole crime boss. He makes a deal with two Hutts, the Twins, to keep them away from Jabba’s former territory, and starts building up his own team. He already has Fennec Shand, former assassin, and through some deal making, recruits the Mos Espa street gang, the Mods, so called because they are into replacing body parts with cybernetics. Fett’s goal is to go straight, stop putting his life on the line for a fistful of credits. That puts him up against the other syndicates.
Fett’s main problem is that he is a bounty hunter, not a crime lord. He has contacts, but not the experience. He is more direct than his rivals and willing to give up a source of income, like spice, if it gets what he wants. While Shand questions the approach, Fett’s experiences, including his time with the Sand People, have shown him the benefits of working with others. It’s how the clones were trained during the Clone Wars, but Fett learned it naturally instead of through learning programs.
The series is part space western, part crime drama. Temeura Morrison returns to play Boba Fett. He has spent years portraying different versions of Jango Fett since Attack of the Clones. During the run of The Clone Wars, he played all the clones, giving them each a different feel. The audience could tell the difference between Rex, Commander Cody, and Fives. The only clone of Jango he hasn’t played is Boba. In each role, clone and Boba Fett alike, he brings out the humanity of the character. The Fett of the series turns out to be good with animals, which comes to play in the final episode of the season.
Casting, as always, is key. While Morrison carries the series as the title character, the supporting cast build the setting, giving it a sense of realism. David Pasquesi as Shaiz’s majordomo is fun to watch and Ming-Na Wen’s Fennec Shand represents what Fett was. Bringing back characters from The Mandalorian who live on Tatooine made sense; they add to the idea that the Galaxy Far Far Away is larger with multiple stories happening all at once.
One drawback from the series is the potential for continuity lockout, a term normally applied to comics from Marvel and DC. Continuity lockout occurs when there is a reference to an event in another title from some time before, with the audience potentially not able to catch up. There were a couple of episodes focused more on the Mandalorian than on Fett which allowed for audiences to catch up on popular characters but may cause issues in a future season of the Mando’s series. There are some surprising casting decisions, too, though not unwelcome. Jennifer Beals plays Gars Fwip, owner of Sanctuary, a casino. Danny Trejo plays the Rancor keeper, who cares for his charge.
Part of the drawback comes from Dave Filoni’s love of continuity and characters from previous works in the franchise. Some appearances are just Easter eggs, little things for longer term fans to realize, like having Camie and Fixer, Luke’s friends from an earlier draft of A New Hope who appeared in the radio drama, appear in a seedy bar with speeder bike gangers. Some, like Cad Bane, a recurring bounty hunter character from The Clone Wars series, bring a history that is implied but not explained. For now, this isn’t a problem as The Mandalorian and The Clone Wars are both available on Disney+. The potential for continuity lockout to exist in the future is there.
Overall, the series invites audiences to keep watching. Between the flashbacks with Fett recovering amongst the Tusken Raiders and finding a new sense of purpose to his attempts to go straight and be a productive member of society on a planet where everything is fighting against him doing so, the series presents a story that engages the audience, drawing them in and rooting for a bounty hunter who was previously an antagonist for the heroes of the movies. Temuera Morrison’s Boba Fett is a complicated character, fighting his old desires and reputation to be accepted.
This time out, a slightly different take on adaptations. Instead of looking at a specific work being adapted, today’s post will examine how a work can use modern sensibilities to adapt past cultural events into a form that can be understood by a modern audience. For this, Lost in Translation will examine the 2001 film, A Knight’s Tale, starring Heath Ledger as William Thatcher aka Sir Ulrik von Lichtenstein, Rufus Sewell as Count Adhemar, Mark Addy as Roland, Alan Tudyk as Wat, Shannyn Sossamon as Jocelyn, Laura Fraser as Kate, and Paul Bettany as the Fourteenth Century writer Geoffrey Chaucer.
The movie opens as William, Roland, and Wat try to wake up Sir Ector (Nick Brimble), only to discover that the knight is no more. Sir Ector managed to get to the finals of the jousting competition with one last tilt. If Sir Ector does not ride, the three men would go hungry. William decides to ride in Sir Ector’s place, taking advantage of the knight’s helm to hide his face.
William wins. He gets an idea – his dream was always to become a knight. If he takes Sir Ector’s place in the tournament circuit, he could get recognized while his compatriots can get wealth beyond their wildest dreams. It takes some persuasion, but Wat and Roland agree and the three start William’s training.
On the road to the next tournament, the three run into a man so down on his luck he doesn’t have a stitch of clothes to his name. Chaucer has a small gambling problem, and the people he owes money to took his clothes as a partial payment. Chaucer points out that the tournament requires participant to produce their patents of nobility, proof that they are of noble blood. Fortunately, Chaucer just happens to know how to create a patent.
At the tournament, after presenting the patent of nobility for one Ulrik von Lichenstein, William chooses his events, the melee and the joust. Both events take a toll on his armour, and no blacksmith is going to do the work without payment up front. Even Kate, a widow who has taken over her husband’s smithy, refuses William, but he challenges her and gets his armour repaired. William wins the melee. He does well in the joust, showing both honour and mercy to an injured Thomas Colville, who has never withdrawn from a tilt. However, William also meets Adhemar, a French count who rides with the Free Company. Both have caught the eye of Jocelyn, the daughter of a noble, and Adhemar does not like to lose.
William’s prize from winning the melee lets him pay off Chaucer’s gambling debts, the repairs to his armour, and has some left to improve his equipment. Kate joins the crew, providing both the ability to fix and make armour and a feminine insight to William in his quest for romance. Adhemar, though, is recalled to duty in southern France, meaning William’s goal to be the best in joust will go unfulfilled.
The troup continues on the tournament circuit with William not feeling like he’s deserved his position despite winning at each one. News of William’s success reaches the Free Company. Adhemar can’t make it to the Paris tournament, but he is available for the World Championships in London. The Count has a spy follow William around in London, discovering the rookie sensation’s secret. Exposed as a commoner, William is placed in the stocks. It is Sir Thomas Coville, or as it is confirmed, Edward, the Black Prince of England, who steps forward. He has seen William on the jousting tilts, and praises his honour and mercy, then knights William himself.
At the stadium, the finals come down to Adhemar against William, refined skill tempered with hate versus raw talent. Adhemar gets two strikes to none fast, and has a rigged lance to boot. The lance penetrates William’s armour to the point he can’t breathe in it, and the blow numbs his arm to the point he can’t hold his lance. While Chaucer distracts the crowd and delays the next tilt, William ditches his armour and has Wat lash the lance on to his arm. Still, William has a task in front of him – he has to unhorse or kill Adhemar to win.
A Knight’s Tale, while tagged as Action, Adventure, and Romance on Netflix, is a sports movie at heart. The beats follow movies such as Major League as the action takes place over a season. Instead of a season schedule, knights went on a tournament circuit. tournaments started as a way for knights and other nobles to keep their skills in warfare and battle. Events at a tournament included archery, the grand melee, and jousting, where the winner of the joust was also declared the winner of the tourney. Naturally, crowds would come out to watch and cheer on their favourites. Not much has changed with modern sports, where crowds come out to cheer on their favourite rich men performing specialized skills.
The first joust of the movie is introduced with the crowd being pumped. Obviously, Queen didn’t exist in the Fourteenth Century, but the crowd getting excited over the finals isn’t hard to imagine. The film uses “We Will Rock You” because of the song’s use today to get crowds pumped up. The song’s drum beat is easy to do and once started, easy for people to join in. The surviving records that show who won the different events don’t include audience reactions, but that’s the same for today’s sports pages. At one point in the film, there is a vendor walking around selling meat on a stick and hot wine, not much different from hot dogs and beer today.
The dance scene at the first buffet William attends begins with music that sounds traditional. The dance begins as a modified farandole, but to show what the dancing is meant to be, the movie brings in David Bowie’s “Golden Years” and updates the dance moves. The dancing wasn’t meant to be formal and stuffy, but a celebration. Less baller, more disco.
Bettany’s Chaucer is William’s herald, but heralds presented their liege to the noble hosting the tournament. Chaucer in the movie ramps it up a notch, not just reciting William’s, well, Ulrik’s deeds and patent, but brings in the crowd. Athletes will mention the feeling of having the crowd behind them, providing that last extra bit of energy needed. Audiences are there for the entertainment. While the real life Chaucer wasn’t an announcer at a boxing match, there are parallels. He was a writer, and writers do want to gran the audience’s attention. Adhemar’s own herald tries the same thing in the London tournament, not quite getting the enthusiasm but taking a step in that direction.
The final scene can be described as being the bottom of the ninth, two out, home team down by two and needing a three run home run to win. The tension is built up accordingly, coming down to Adhemar and William as the crowd fades out. The fastball versus the power hitter, with one knock back pitch already. The last charge down the tilt builds to the climactic hit.
A Knight’s Tale received some criticism because of the anachronisms. At the box office, it recovered its budget and then some. The Fourteenth Century is now 700 years in the past with all records kept on paper. There is no video of jousts, no reaction shots of audiences, just records of who participated and who won. A Knight’s Tale brings the tournament circuit of the Fourteenth Century to a modern understanding by using modern equivalents, making the concepts involved easier to understand.
On a side note, the music of the pandemic, Bardcore, might have helped. At the same time, “The Golden Years” fit the banquet dance so well, fitting anything else in would be a step backwards.