star wars

My Rogue One Opinions [SPOILERS]

Watching this movie felt like a constant battle between being stuck in the old Star Wars tradition and deciding whether, and when, to embrace the new. Really, a lot of my experience was a series of inner whining mitigated by instant justification and rationalization as to why the change or choice was a good one. I'm glad I was able to enjoy a lot of the movie for its visceral coolness, but I was admittedly more analytical in my first viewing than I'd hoped to be.

Yep, this was a good one! 

No opening crawl made me sad at first, but I ended up respecting it and ultimately, loving the choice. Rogue One isn't an episode; it's a standalone film, so I'm glad it's not adhering to Star Wars standards for arbitrary reasons. The opening action prologue did the same work as an opening crawl would have done, and it did it better. Both would have been redundant.

I LOVE Chirrut. I think he represents everything that's right with the force. Everything I think the force should be, at least. There's been some debate as to whether or not he is strong with the force, or whether or not he's a Jedi. I don't think it matters if he's a Jedi. And I think it's obviously that he has some ability to harness the power of the force. I am not a huge fan of the dogmatic Jedi system with its black and white rules. 

Mon Mothma!!! She is awesome. That actor is great. Seeing her on screen made me giddy. I mean, how cool -- it's Mon Mothma!!!

The end was powerful. Delightful. There were points where I wasn't 100% sure about the movie, because I was watching with a cautious eye (and also there is more action in this movie than I like to have in movies), but the end won me over completely.

I was a little bothered by Darth Vader. Thought he should be taller. Something about his suit felt off. But then I realized his height isn't biological; Anakin wasn't that tall, after all...I mean, he has half limbs underneath the suit. Also, this is probably in my head, because it really doesn't seem like something Star Wars directors would gloss over. It's a pretty important detail, after all.

I love K2.

I really really like that everyone dies.

Okay, but how cool is Mon Mothma?

Jyn's "inspiring speech" is a little much, but that's okay. Also, she is very attractive to me. 

Tarkin is scary AF. 

Fan me wanted to see Palpatine for a split second (or just the back of his robes or something), but I don't think it was necessary. 

I'm a fan of the CGI stuff. Tarkin didn't distract me or bother me, even though the actor is dead. I thought it's cool that they were able to "resurrect" him for this movie.

I also really liked the CGI Princess Leia thingy at the end. Feel like this will be controversial, but *shrug* I liked it, and I almost cried from being so excited about it.

Visually, this movie did good work. I think they built an admirable visual scape that incorporated elements from both new and old trilogies, which helps to blend them together. The difference in technology and "looks" is one of the most jarring things for me when watching the old and new trilogy back to back, and this movie helps bridge that gap.

A lot of these opinions will obviously change. These are just initial fan reactions.

I know that the empire is purposely supposed to be more human-centric because Emperor Palpatine is fucked, but I do miss the relative lack of "aliens" AKA non-humans in the empire films. One thing I really do like about the prequels is how diverse the galaxy is in terms of species. 

However, this movie was more diverse within the human landscape, which was great!! I see why conservatives were boycotting the movie now. Lolololol.

I liked the planet subtitles. I feel like this will also be controversial because it's a new convention.

MUSTAFAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! LOVE. The birth of Vader. Obviously, this is where he'd have his castle. Nice shoutout to the original concept art too. I love Ralph McQuarrie.

The musical score was by far the most distracting part of this movie for me. I'm not saying it was bad, but it was extremely distracting because it wasn't what I'm used to, obviously. However, I think it is important that John Williams NOT do it. With the revival of the franchise this decade, it has become clear that Star Wars movies are going to continue to be a thing for a while, and let's be honest -- John Williams can't do it forever. He's old. He's tired. The franchise can't rely on him. It was a great move to make that movie now, so that when John Williams dies, it isn't a sudden blow to the Star Wars franchise. I'm glad the first non-John-composed live action film was an intentional, expected thing rather than a last resort due to Williams' death (Clone Wars movie was also non-John, but that wasn't remotely popular, nor was it good, and no one outside of geek world really talks about it. I was only of the only people I know who saw it when it came out.) Also, since Rogue One is a standalone film rather than an episode, a lot of these changes made more sense. I think they all assist in setting the stage for a little more creative freedom in the Star Wars films in the future. 

I'm not not saying the score was bad either. But seriously though, just because I'm not not saying it was bad, I still don't mean it was bad either. I need more space to consider it on its own, because for now, I can only judge it in the context of the old scores, which is more of a reactionary response. I will say though, that I think Michael Giacchino did an admirable job given all the constraints (both imposed and imagined, I'm sure). First of all, he only had a month to pull this shit off. So YIKES. pressure! It's just a Star Wars film! You're just going up against John Williams' legacy and going to endure the critique of a skillion diehard fans and nerds who will probably not be nice! I wouldn't have wanted his job, to be honest. There must have been enormous pressure to both fit into the "Star Wars-ian sound" and craft something new-ish, which doesn't sound like a dream creative project to me. 

I wish the orchestral musicians who recorded for this were listed in the credits, but it was probably some union thing. Idk. I'll ask Lorenz (who recorded on it). I hope there was a good reason for not listing them. 


Trends, Video Games, and Fandoms - September Podcast Picks

Happy International Podcast Day! As someone who's obsessed with podcasts, I'm surprised I haven't done more podcast posts. As someone also obsessed with reviewing things (and generally having opinions), I'm doubly shocked I haven't done more podcast reviews. I figure it's because I listen to so many damn podcasts so damn often that it's hard to keep track of them. Luckily, I remember some of this month's highlights, so I'm going to share my recent episode picks below. No particular order.


1) If you want something fun, surprising, and short.

99% Invisible #229: The Trend Forecast
Length: 17:41
Listen from their website 
Subscribe on iTunes 

This episode introduces Worth Global Style Network (WGSN), the company that predicts fashion trends. Turns out, WGSN is the secret weapon of the mass market. Pretty much every retailer, news outlet, and marketer relies on this company's trend predictions in order to stay current. All of this is incredibly fascinating. And it's not just about clothing, shoes, and hair trends; it's also food, behavior, technology, packaging trends, and more. Statistics and complex future projections play a major role in style prediction. This episode is a stimulating brain massage.


2) If you're a member of any fandom and have feelings. 

Full of Sith: Fixing Fandom - Ending Bullying and Gatekeeping
Length: 59:44
Listen on their website
Subscribe on iTunes

As almost any fan of anything knows, fandoms can be intense. What starts as a mutual love for a book or movie often becomes a pissing contest dead set on weeding out those with unpopular opinions, gaps in their knowledge, or newer points of entry. This episode is technically on a Star Wars podcast, but it's actually a very general discussion with panelists spanning different nerd worlds and perspectives. A lot of interesting points are raised here, including why gatekeeping may exist and be "important" for some people in the first place.


3) If you want riveting, well-reported, really fucking important.

This American Life #562: The Problem We All Live With
Length: 58:43
Listen on their website
Subscribe on iTunes

This one is about desegregation in schools (yes, in modern times). While all of the other podcasts mentioned in this post are fascinating, delightful, stimulating, educational, THIS one is like...super super important AND interesting. And it's not boring either, which I know is sometimes the danger when sitting down to specifically consume "something important." But I promise this isn't like that. You won't sit through it and think "I'm being a good citizen by listening to this" You will be riveted. And infuriated. I wish more people knew about these stories. Content warning: There are some intense, verbal moments of anti-black racism from parents at the recorded school district meeting. 


4) If you like playing games on your phone and/or if you struggle with anxiety, depression, or addiction.

Note to Self: The Secret to Making Video Games Good For You
Length: 26:29
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Subscribe on iTunes

When people talk about technology, I'm used to hearing skepticism, fear, and dismay. And negative conversation surrounding video games has been around since even before smartphones. As an unabashed technology lover, I always love a good discussion about the positive byproducts of tech, and this episode definitely provides that, complete with concrete research and tips on how can use games as a way of self-help and mood regulation. Lots of great points here, and a truly delightful listen, so I hope even the stodgiest of technophobes give it a try!


5) If you're an artist/musician who could use a quick pep talk.

The Entrepreneurial Musician #63: TEM Short: The Number One Trap For Artists
Length: 11:50
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Subscribe on iTunes

Be yourself. Don't listen to the haters. Don't send yourself into a spiral of self-judgment based on a couple less than perfect reviews. Just do you. I know this isn't new advice to anyone, but host Andrew Hitz does a good job quickly demonstrating how silly these vicious traps are and encouraging us artists to continue trucking on. Worked for me.