Monday, January 30, 2017

Star Wars: A Rogue Review


The first in a series of “standalone” movies set in the Star Wars Universe, Rogue One stands as a sign of great things to come. I put standalone in quotes, because these movies are part of a larger overall story, they are standalone in the same way that the solo Marvel films are standalone in comparison to an Avengers film, although with Captain America: Civil War that line is becoming more blurred, which isn’t a bad thing.

Rogue One while not perfect served as merely a proof of concept for Disney/Lucasfilm, that they could tell a story without a character named Skywalker or Solo and have it be successful as of today, the film has made $520 million domestically and $1.030 billion worldwide. Rogue One was arguably a safe story in that it was one Disney/Lucasfilm felt comfortable enough to tell because it directly leads into the events of the original 1977 Star Wars, later renamed Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. Now that they know they can tell these “standalone” stories and make a good profit, I would expect to see more stories that are more removed from the Saga films, the ones that begin with Episode [Insert Roman Numeral].

In fact, while watching some behind the scenes material to the third Hobbit film on Blu-ray, I thought it would be awesome to see one of these films directed by Sir Peter Jackson set during a time before the lightsaber, when Jedi and Sith used more conventional medieval Earth-like swords, like what was presented in the Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi series of novels by Del Rey that are now part of the Star Wars Legends canon.

Now as to Rogue One, I thought that director, Gareth Edwards, in the time he was permitted managed to get the audience to care about the cast of characters, who are completely new to the audience. I was hoping at least one of them one make it out alive. I thought all the characters were well developed given the time the director had to do so, although if this had been a Netflix series as opposed to a film it would have been the better for it. Felicity Jones’ Jyn Erso, Donnie Yen’s Chirrut Îmwe and of course Alan Tudyk’s K-2SO stole the scenes they were in, although in K-2SO’s case by tradition he had to be the comedic robot just as the saga films have the Abbott & Costello-style duo of C3-PO & R2-D2, Rogue One has K-2SO.

Now for the Tarkin thing, I thought the CGI was as good as they were ever going to get. As for those saying he “lacked emotion” in the eyes, go back and watch the original Star Wars, Tarkin is a cold, calculating, manipulative person with a cold dead stare. Honestly, I think he’s more a robot than Vader, who is easily & visibly ten times more emotional than Tarkin and that’s without seeing his face!

Now, the problems I have are mixed between being major and minor issues. A major issue the Death Troopers and the Shore Troopers, both were new and original classes of Storm Trooper designed for the film, yet neither were utilized well. The Death Troopers while certainly impressive to look at, with exception to killing Jyn’s mother, had no real role to play other than standing around Director Krennic. As for the Shore Troopers, if you are not sure who I’m talking about don’t worry, if you blinked at any time during the Battle of Skarif you probably missed them. Which is my problem, why go through the effort of designing an entirely new class of Storm Trooper if you’re going to limit them to about 5 seconds of screen time. In fact, the only significant part one of them played was throwing a grenade into the ship that Imperial defector turned Rebel pilot, Bodhi Rook was in during the climax of the film.

As for Chirrut Îmwe, I came away with the sense that he was Force-sensitive even though not technically a Jedi, I mean I know Storm Troopers are historically bad shots but missing him up until after the point he accomplishes what he set out to do is a bit of a stretch, unless of course the Force was diverting the blasts around him.

Finally, that Vader scene at the end really plays into Luke’s belief that there is still good in him, by which I mean, when Vader confronts Obi-Wan in A New Hope in comparison to the scene in Rogue One he is clearly holding back because deep down a part of him still sees Obi-Wan as a mentor and a friend, similarly when he confronts Luke in The Empire Strikes Back, Vader holds back because he knows Luke is his son. Unfortunately for the Rebel soldiers Vader holds no such emotional attachment to them.

Overall, Rogue One was a great film with a great cast and I look forward to the coming Han Solo film.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Problems with Political Parties & the Divisions in America!


Instead of worrying over what President Donald J. Trump may do in office; perhaps the progressives would be better served at examining their own party’s policies and actions over the last 8 yrs. and why they lost the election this time around.

I consider myself an Independent, as in I have my own views and opinions on various political issues, for several reasons one of which is that I firmly believe that George Washington was spot on when, in his farewell message as President he warned Americans not to form political parties. His reasoning, that they would divide citizens instead of keeping citizens and by extension politicians focused on our nation’s problems at home and abroad.

Case in point, this past years’ election issues:

  1. Immigration is an American problem, NOT a Republican problem and NOT a Democratic problem!
  2. Terrorism is an American problem, NOT a Republican problem and NOT a Democratic problem!
  3. Our Economy’s health is an American problem, NOT a Republican problem and NOT a Democratic problem!
  4. Our Healthcare, Genetic Engineering and Environmental policies are an American problem, NOT a Republican problem and NOT a Democratic problem!

Anyone get the big picture yet?

During his campaign, Trump’s motto was “Make America Great Again”, key word America, not Republican Party.

Furthermore, when Trump implements policies we disagree with we have the constitutionally protected right to petition and protest (peacefully) said policies, not the man. On the topic of protests, I find it peculiar that protesting Trump is seemingly ok, meanwhile when conservatives protested Obama, it was disrespectful. However, the occupant of the Oval Office regardless of his/her political views by nature of the position and power that comes with being President of the United States deserves respect with regards to their responsibilities of leading our nation. We do not however, need to respect his/her political views or their policies and do have the right to refute and protest them.

As per the Bill of Rights:

Amendment 1: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Thus, WE the PEOPLE of the United States of America retain the right to combat through peaceful means any rule, regulation or legislation enacted by either the Executive (White House & President) or Legislative (Congress both Senate & House) branches of our Government that we find to be in opposition to our collective will.

The internet makes connecting with and contacting our elected officials easy and holding them accountable for their actions.

I voted for Trump because Clinton represented the establishment politics of both parties that has slowly been undermining our Constitution piece by piece. Will Trump be any better? That is to be seen and will play heavily into who wins the White House in 2021.

 

A quick note on the Women’s March, I have two questions and one suggestion:

  1. If the march was about reproductive rights, which is a human issue that affects both genders, why wasn’t it called the Reproductive Rights March? Calling it Women’s March, gives the impression that it was more about Clinton losing as opposed to women’s rights.
  2. If the point is to get the new President to not rescind women’s rights, how exactly does protesting his presidency do that? If anything, it will provoke him. Seriously, his daughters are probably the only thing keeping him from rescinding a woman’s right to vote and hold office, let alone get an abortion!
  3. As opposed to protesting his presidency perhaps a better approach is to open a dialogue to establish mutual understanding, get him to change his views by working with him instead of against him. In his Inaugural Address, President Trump said “January 20th 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again!” We can hold him to that through diplomacy and an open dialogue, we have to let him know what WE the PEOPLE want.