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Thoughts On A Second Viewing Of Rogue One

Right up front: still hated Rogue One; in fact, the movie made me angry this time around. Freed from the propriety of the theater, I yelled epithets at the screen whenever a character did something notably stupid. I have a sore throat now. It looked good, I’ll give Rogue One that, but everything else was a failure: character, tone, story, acting, and whatnot. Let’s take them one by one.

CHARACTER

Remember Luke? Blond, tunic, leggings, family on fire? You remember Luke. He was a farmboy who wanted to join the Academy to become a pilot. He had a friend named Biggs, and they were going to Tosche Station to pick up some power converters. We saw him working on the droids that his uncle paid good money for, so he must have been handy. He was familiar with weird old hermits, and had a beat-up old landspeeder. We find all this out before Obi-Wan is introduced; we have time to get to know Luke and who he is, to empathize with him. (Same thing they did with Rey in The Force Awakens.)

Who, though, is Jyn Erso? She’s a black hole of nothing in the middle of the film and might be the linchpin to why none of this works. Star Wars movies need a hero, and she is merely the protagonist. (This is not helped by the casting of one of the least talented actresses on the planet.) We are informed that is some sort of lone wolf terrorist against the Empire by another character reading off her rap sheet, which I believe is a preset in Final Draft software: you hit, like CTRL+4 and the scene writes itself.

Who is Saul Guerrero? (It turns out that Forest Whitaker’s character is named Saw Gerrera, but I heard it as “Saul Guerrero” the entire movie and kept thinking he was a Cuban Jew.) He’s a former Rebel whose methods have become “too extreme” for the Alliance, we’re told. Then we see him and he’s hobbling around on robot goat legs and sucking from a gas mask like Dennis Hopper in Blue Velvet. (Every time he did that, all I could think was “JEDI WANTS TO FUCK!” and I would lose the thread of the movie for a bit.)

The two Chinese guys show up. Literally.

“Hey, you! Pouty white girl! I have a magical feeling that you’re the hero of this movie! We’re with you, now!”

And don’t give me any shit about the Force. The Force doesn’t work that way.

There’s also a pilot guy whose dumb name I can’t remember, but he defects from the Empire out of loyalty to Galen Erso, Jyn’s father and the engineer behind the Death Star. Again: we’re told this. We are told everything in this movie.

The only time Rogue One shows us character instead of telling is with Casper Ambulance, or whatever the hell Diego Luna’s name was. He’s on a mission for the Rebels and, after extracting the information he needs from a spy, shoots the guy in cold blood. Unfortunately, this is precisely the wrong choice to have made for the movie. Why?

TONE

Because Star Wars movies are supposed to be fucking fun, that’s why. Star Wars movies are about friends having adventures in space. Sometimes they have to fight monsters. Generally, there is a castle with an evil wizard in it. There is a Light side of the Force and a Dark side, and the contrast is stark and defined. Yes of course when you stare into the abyss blah blah blah and be careful when you fight monsters harblegarble, but that’s not what Star Wars is. I don’t want to make the jump into lightspeed with bunch of mopey fucks in the first stages of PTSD.

Rogue One is a War Movie, which is not the same genre as a Fantasy. (Star Wars is not Sci-Fi in any way, shape, or form.) War Movies come to one natural conclusion–that war is hell–and anyone alive in the last reel is there because of luck. Fantasy teaches us that a hero will save the day, and that overwhelming force can be overcome through pluck and cleverness. These two worldviews are not compatible. Perhaps stripped of the Star Wars bullshit, Rogue One would stand on its own as a War Movie in space, but they curdle when placed in the same space.

STORY

As you know, Enthusiasts, Mr. Completely is my trusted advisor in all dealings; he has wisely counseled me to avoid picking the plot apart, and is correct as usual. To accuse one particular Star Wars movie of not making sense is akin to people slighting Mrs. Donna Jean for singing out-of-tune: all the others are committing the same sin. Plot is not important in Star Wars movies.

What is important is story, which is different from plot. The story of Star Wars (not A New Hope; you know I don’t roll like that) is this: A young man leaves home to discover a weird and dangerous new world. Along the way he makes friends and rescues a princess. In the end, by applying the lessons he has learned on his journey, he defeats the forces of evil.”

(If that seems familiar, it’s because it’s also the story to Harry Potter and the Matrix and just about a billion other movies and books and epic poems. You know all about Joseph Campbell; I won’t bore you.)

So: what is the story to Rogue One? You’re saying “A ragtag bunch of scrappy rebels steal the plans to the Death Star,” but it wasn’t. The story was “Several dour people look for another dour person, and then steal the plans to the Death Star.” First Jyn looks for one father figure with whom her relationship has not been established. Everything blows up. Then she looks for another father figure with whom her relationship has not been established. Everything blows up. Then everyone gets a completely unearned hero moment. Darth Vader shows up to screw up the continuity. Everything blows up.

ACTING

I believe Felicity Jones suffers from facial paralysis. She has a default expression that reads as “Yes, I’m here but please don’t ask me anything complicated.” Her little rouse-the-troops speech reminded me of a little girl clip-copping around the kitchen in her mother’s shoes, and she couldn’t even squeeze out a tear during her father’s death scene. Plus–and this may have more to do with the editor than her–she often sounds as if she’s having a slightly different conversation than the people she’s talking to. She is–for the whole movie–flat, monotonous; her face is like crossed arms, and there’s no inner life to the character at all.

On the other hand, she has a lovely chin.

The rest of the cast acquitted themselves professionally, except Jimmy Smits. HOLY SHIT was Jimmy Smits bad. He was probably drunk. Jimmy Smits likes to party.

WHATNOT

After the prequels (which do not exist) came out, people were fond of saying “George Lucas raped my childhood.” I believe South Park did an episode about it. This is a crass overreaction, and simply isn’t true of Rogue One. I believe this movie raped me with my childhood.

“Hey, remember the guy with an ass for a face and his ugly friend?”

Sure, why?

SHA-SHPLOIK!

(That’s the sound it makes when you’re raped my your own childhood. Trust me.)

“Hey, remember blue milk?”

Please don’t–

SHA-SHPLOIK!

“Remember your droid friends?”

No! I don’t!

“I don’t believe you.”

SHA-SHPLOIK!

And so on.

The Force Awakens did far more of the cutesy-winky bullshit than Rogue One did, but that movie has to be seen as a meta-commentary on itself, as well as a soft remake. TFA was also more entertaining, so I’m prone to forgive its fan service and theft from the OT.

PLUS the structure didn’t match the genre. The structure was half Star Wars/half Jedi: first hour was Luke’s call to action and the gathering of allies; second hour was ships going PEW while people shoot at each other on the planet below. But that’s not a War Movie.

AND Digi-Tarkin and Cyber-Leia were still jarring and creepy. You didn’t need Tarkin at all, and you could have shown Princess Leia from the back. We would have recognized the buns. This wasn’t an uncanny valley you needed to ski down, Disney.

ALSO I promised not to nitpick, but Vader didn’t sound right.

That’s nitpicking.

Wow, I almost got through a post without talking to myself.

Don’t nitpick.

There is SO MUCH nitpickery to avail oneself of. There was a chomper door. Like in Galaxyquest.

You said you wouldn’t nitpick. Sum up and do something productive.

To sum up: if Rogue One had fun characters I enjoyed going on adventures with, then I could have lived with the disjointed story; if the story were more compelling, I could have overlooked the underwritten, unmotivated characters. Felicity Jones can’t act.

Feel free to disagree in the Comment Section.

Thoughts On Rogue One

  • So, you know: spoilers.
  • Fun fact: Peter Criss from KISS used to call his penis (a rather large one) The Spoiler, as it would “spoil” women.
  • That’s true; you can look it up.
  • So, if you’re going to see it and don’t want to know that everyone dies, stop reading ten words prior to this one.
  • It’s Star Warsy.
  • The droids are gay, and the bad guys are classically-trained white guys, and space doesn’t act the way it’s supposed to.
  • PYOO PYOO.
  • All that bullshit.
  • You wanna know what this movie is?
  • Really is, under all the zippity-zop?
  • Back to the Future II
  • When Marty and Doc are sneaking around behind the story you already know?
  • That.
  • The Disney Star Wars movies seem to be following a pattern: young Englishwoman with a strong jaw and no discernible acting ability leads a ragtag group of ethnics against white guys.
  • Here’s how white the Empire is in Rogue One: one of them is Mads Mikkelson.
  • And, you know that I love Mads Mikkelson, but he is the opposite of Fela Kuti.
  • Mads has a dopey Star Wars name I’ve already forgotten–Galaxy Humperdink or something–and he doesn’t want to build the Death Star, but the head bad guy makes him via the strategic killing of his family.
  • That seems to be the Empire’s move.
  • Looking for droids?
  • Kill the whole family.
  • Suspect a spy?
  • Kill the whole family.
  • Billingsworth showed up late to his post again?
  • Kill all the Billingsworths.
  • You get the point.
  • Anyway, his daughter avoided killing and was raised by Forest Whitaker and his sloppy eyeball.
  • He is some sort of robot-person/monk/terrorist/lunatic living on Jetti Alpha VI.
  • Then the daughter, who is now grown up because they tried making a Star Wars movie with a child as the lead and no one liked it, is a Rebel.
  • Jean Ossobucco?
  • Jibbly Omphalos?
  • Jyn Erso.
  • Ugh, I’m getting too old for this shit.
  • Jyn fucking Erso.
  • Okay, so Jyn Erso gets busted out of jail, which she is in for some reason, by Diego Luna and a robot who is not voiced by David Hyde Pierce, and they take her to Mom Mothman on Yavin IV.
  • Three guesses whether or not every establishing shot of Yavin IV features the guy in the silly helmet standing in the space-crow’s nest.
  • The Rebellion needs to find Forest Whitaker, so they send Jyn and Diego Luna and the robot; Forest Whitaker is now on the desert planet Jedward, which was wasn’t the desert planet Jackaroo from The Star Wars Awakens.
  • Forest Whitaker is there, and he has hooked a scruffy Middle Eastern guy to the Brain Bug from Starship Troopers, which drives the guy insane right up until the point where the plot needs him not to be any more.
  • This is one of those movies where the heroes keep going to places only to be told, “No, you need to go this other place.”
  • I think there’s four or five places in this film.
  • But Jedward is where these two live:
  • DONNIE MOTHERFUCKING YEN, MOTHERFUCKERS.
  • And the other guy, who is awesome and has a space machine gun strapped to him like he was Jesse Ventura in Predator, but is not Donnie Yen.
  • Donnie Yen is not a Jedi, but he does have a stick to hit people with.
  • As you might imagine, Donnie Yen is extraordinarily good at hitting people with his stick.
  • Even if said people are wearing Stormtrooper armor, which at this point must be thought to be completely useless.
  • Armor should beat stick.
  • Like I mentioned, Donnie Yen is not a Jedi, but he keeps babbling about the Force.
  • He’s mostly a blind kung fu master.
  • Which is good enough for me: a wookiee would have been nice, but a blind kung fu master babbling about the Force will entertain me.
  • The Jedward blows up; our heroes escape, but Forest Whitaker and his sloppy eyeball are killed.
  • Then they go someplace where it’s raining, and there is heavy morality, man.
  • Luckily, TIE fighters show up before anything too annoying can happen, except then the most annoying scene in any movie occurs.
  • The fucking death scene.
  • Mads Mikkelson was in the rainy place, and he dies in Jyn’s arms, and I was audibly muttering at the screen to skip past this part.
  • Wait!
  • We forgot about Grand Moff Tarkin!
  • Peter Cushing, from the original: he’s in this.
  • Well, not him.
  • A collection of 1’s and 0’s in the shape of Peter Cushing, who died decades ago, is in this: there are two CG humans in this, and both of them look almost mostly lifelike.
  • We are not out of the Uncanny Valley yet.
  • Okay, so Mads is dead and now the heroes have to go to another place, which looks quite tropical; were it not for all the thermal detonations, it would appear to be a Club Med.
  • This is where the Macguffin is kept.
  • Um, I mean “plans to the Death Star.”
  • The last act is the best one, as the director expertly bashes all the toys from your childhood together.
  • X-Wings!
  • AT-ATs! (Kinda.)
  • ANDDARTHFUCKINGVADEROMIGODVADER.
  • They got his voice wrong.
  • It was James Earl Jones, but the effect on it was off; it sounded like the voice that comes out of the helmet you buy at Target.
  • And he does some lightsaber bullshit, because God forbid you have a Star War without lightsabers.
  • They’re gonna find a way to jam those suckers into the Han Solo movie, you mark my words.
  • Again–I liked the last act–but you do have to overlook all the inherently idiotic nonsense about it that is only there because the screenwriter needed some more obstacles to throw in the way of the heroes.
  • There’s literally a chomper door.
  • Like they goofed on in Galaxy Quest.
  • But there is a great space battle commanded by a guy from Admiral Akbar’s species.
  • (Mon Calamari. I didn’t need to look that up.)
  • Disney should have ponied up for a latex mask, though: Not Akbar is utterly shit CG; there’s actually several shots in the film which were up to neither par nor snuff.
  • The battle might have the best single shot of the movie, though: the Rebel Fleet is trying to flee by making the jump into hyperspace, and as they do a Star Destroyer drops out of hyperspace right in front of them, and they all crash into it.
  • I may or may not have let out a quiet, “Duuuuuuude,” at that moment.
  • But the plans get off the planet, sent to a very familiar-looking Corellian Corvette, and a Rebel soldier in a very familiar-looking blue shirt and white helmet runs these plans to a young woman seen from the back.
  • She has a very familiar-looking white robe on.
  • And I’m sitting there going, “Don’t show her face. Don’t show her face.”
  • DAMMIT.
  • Same CG bullshit as Tarkin.
  • Imagine the very best video game cutscene from 2013.
  • There you go.
  • And then everybody dies.
  • A competent and professional handjob for your nostalgia-boner.
  • Star Wars is with us, and we are with Star Wars.
  • This is what we wanted.

Rouge Won

Congratulations, Rogue One trailer, on winning the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Han, Solo

 

39 of 60- Movies I screencapped
Okay, first of all: this post’s title is fucking sterling. I am proud of myself.

Second: it turns out that Donnie Yen’s character, Chirrut Imwe, is not technically a Jedi in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, but he’s Jedish enough for me; TotD hereby confers upon Donnie Yen the title of Jedi-shifu, and appoints him to the council.

So, yes: the world is crumbling like a Jenga tower in the Earthroamer; and, yes: 2016 has not even begun to shred out hearts. But Donnie Yen is playing the Blind Master in a Star Wars movie, so it can’t be all bad.

First!

I was going to do a whole thing, Enthusiasts, and list the top ten movies from 2006, 1996, etc., and point out how crappy America’s taste in films has always been, but it turns out that Donnie Yen is now a blind Jedi master who does kung fu, and everything in my life has changed: I didn’t know this much wonderful was possible.

A blind Jedi master? Cool. Kung fu Jedi? Indisputably awesome. But a blind Jedi master who does kung fu and is played by Donnie Yen? That is so much wonderful. There are four discrete variables in that equation, but the last one is the most important: I love Steve Buscemi, but he would be wrong for this role. The only way this part could be more specifically appealing to me is if Donnie Yen were equipped with a flying guillotine (but with the blades made from lightsabers or some Star Warsy shit like that).

Speaking of equations, I guess from now on we’re going with

(Frowny British Lady) + (Sexy Hispanic Dude) + (The Old Vehicles ± 10% design variation) ÷ Evil Guy in Cape × Lightspeed/Parsec = Star Wars movie product.

But again: Donnie Yen as a blind Jedi master who does kung fu, and also Forest Whitaker and his sloppy eyeball. Thumbs up.

Thoughts On The Rogue One Trailer

      [embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ze2kpOZx_kU[/embedyt]

 

  • This is the future that we have chosen: a new, carefully-calibrated, competently-executed Star Wars product every year until you fucking die.
  • Remember that thing you liked?
  • Here, choke on it.
  • Please note for the record that TotD was the first to declare that we have reached Peak Star Wars.
  • There is a backlash coming; a rebellion, if you will.
  • Anyway, the actual trailer isn’t a trailer: it’s a teaser trailer, but keep in mind that words don’t mean anything anymore.
  • It’s a trailer.
  • Which means–by law–it must begin with ominous piano music.
  • There is a pretty white girl in trouble.
  • She is making a very serious face.
  • Look:
  • rogue one felicity jones serious
  • That is a very serious face.
  • Also: did you know that there was mascara in space?
  • She looks like she should be smoking Marlboro Reds in the parking lot of the Mos Eisley 7-11.
  • And while she is making that face, she is completely surrounded by Star Wars.
  • X-Wings, and droids, and that dopey Tour de France-style space helmet the guy in the picture’s wearing.
  • It’s like the set was cosplaying as Star Wars.
  • You might just call it Star Warsing.
  • This trailer is the Star Warsiest thing ever, and we haven’t even gotten to the AT-AT walkers.
  • Then, Mon Mothma and a Hispanic guy show up.
  • (The Star Wars Universe has become decidedly more diverse since Disney bought the property, although the hero is still going to be a pretty white girl. Felicity Jones, Daisy Ridley, Luke Hamill: pretty white girls. Also, that the push for an integrated SWU is mostly based in added value in the global market makes no difference. Any casting process that gives me Forest Whitaker and Donnie Yen in a Star Wars movie is to be lauded.)
  • The innertubes have already begun speculating on whether the Hispanic guy is Poe Dameron’s father, because the innertubes are racist.
  • There is punching.
  • Blasters, which make the sound .
  • PEW PEW.
  • And the pretty white girl goes, “This is a rebellion, right? I rebel.”
  • Which is a dumb fucking line.
  • “This is a star war, right? LIGHTSABERLIGHTSABERYAAAAAY.”
  • Kinda blatant, is all I’m saying.
  • Back to the action: Ladies and Gentlemen, the Death Star.
  • They have made five Star Wars films and the Death Star has been in four of them.
  • That’s an 80% market penetration.
  • Holy shit: Star Wars isn’t about Jedis or the Force or any of that bullshit.
  • It’s about the Death Star.
  • Quick: someone go concoct an elaborate revisionist theory where the Death Star is the protagonist.
  • A series of shots:
  • Space Nazi in a cape!
  • X-Wing pilots running!
  • Stormtroopers patrolling somewhere dusty!
  • Forest Whitaker!
  • Wait.
  • One of these things is not like the other.
  • Luckily, Forest Whitaker is a god among men and he and his sloppy eyeball can be in every movie, as far as I’m concerned.
  • Plus, if you were on one of the seemingly-millions of desert planets in the Star Wars Universe, and you ran into a crazy person in a cave, that person would be Forest Whitaker.
  • It just makes sense.
  • I would pay to see a shot-for-shot remake of the original Star Wars with Forest Whitaker playing every part: Han, Luke, Leia, the droids.
  • Forest Whitaker is also wearing a cape.
  • We’ve discussed the cape thing.
  • This trailer is less than two minutes long, and there are a good 35 characters wearing capes.
  • And then there’s a bunch of mysterious bullshit: out-of-context shots of the bad guy, and the true, secret bad guy (can’t be Star Wars without a true, secret bad guy), and a new stormtrooper or two.
  • Running!
  • Peril!
  • Escaping!
  • AND THEN DONNIE YEN LAYS SOME MOTHERFUCKING SPACE KUNG FU ON A STORMTROOPER.
  • Perhaps you know how I feel about Donnie Yen.
  • If you need a refresher course:
  • Now: they’re not going to let him to do that, but his mere presence in the film is enough for me.
  • I got a yen for Yen.
  • He’s the biggest movie star in Asia, so it makes sense why he’s in here: China doesn’t really give a shit about Star Wars at the moment, but Disney is intent on changing that opinion.
  • It’s a bit surprising a Bollywood star or two isn’t in this.
  • And then AT-AT walkers have their grand entrance and–as is the trope–can’t shoot for shit.
  • Our Star Warriors are running, slowly and in straight-ish lines, on an open tarmac, and no one gets hit.
  • And don’t give me any of that bullshit about the Force.
  • At a certain point, one has to call the Empire’s competence into question.
  • Killing a person standing in the middle of what is essentially a parking lot should be doable by a military.
  • Hell, leave the walkers on the Star Destroyer and just carpet bomb the area for a couple days.
  • Or a machine gun.
  • One United States Marine with a rifle and half-decent position could solve this problem for you; even if they had gotten the job done, the robot death elephants are overkill.
  • Then there is more piano music, and it is very sad, and the pretty white girl is now wearing Tie-Fighter pilot armor, and if you want, you can go to YouTube and watch professional nerds discuss this fact for hours upon hours.
  • She makes another serious face.
  • Look:
  • felicity jones serious face empire
  • I sincerely hope that Felicity Jones can make more than one face.

Tease Me, Please Me

I’ll watch this ten more times and tell you dumb jokes about it later, but for now: there is more Star Wars, now featuring space kung fu.

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