Warning: tons of photos! Click here for the photos from the comic con earlier in the year.
A video of the functional R2-D2:
See here for first viewing thoughts.
1. I was wrong about Director Orson Krennic as the Very Bad White Male Villain being the one to kill the Spunky Female protagonist’s, Jyn Erso’s, father, Galen Erson…and I’m kind of glad for that. That would’ve been too predictable. Instead, Galen was collateral damage during a Rebel bombing raid; so Galen’s death was directly the result of the group Jyn was (sorta) working for. I mean, sure, Krennic killed Jyn’s mom right in front of her, and he conscripted Galen back into the Empire’s service, so he’s at large responsible for Jyn’s revenge motive…but it’s really all on the Rebellion’s side since they wanted Galen gone in the first place.
2. I’ve taken a liking to Riz Ahmed’s Bodhi Rook as the desperate Vaguely Ethnically Diverse Defector from the Empire. After he gets past his paranoia, he’s a heads-down, get-the-job-done kind of guy.
3. Everyone dies. That didn’t change from the first viewing. It was marketed as a guerrilla war movie, which it was, but it’s still uncomfortable to experience that in a Star Wars setting. You might find a weird coping mechanism in thinking they all somehow deserve it one way or another, but those of us who aren’t suited for extreme cynicism and misanthropy might shrink away from that. Still, though…
Minor spoilers below…
1 – It was good, with some great moments and mildly cringy moments—par for the course for the franchise.
2 – As expected, the production values were top shelf. Some faces, to match the age of the actors seen almost 40 years ago in Episode IV: An New Hope, had to be CGI, and they were pretty much flawless renderings. Grand Moff Tarkin and Princess Leia were the most obvious, and I believe Garven Dreis (“Red Leader, standing by…”) was spotted.
3 – Forest Whitaker and Wen Jiang as Saw Gerrera and Baze Malbus, respectively, were excellent, and Alan Tudyk’s voice work for the resigned, deadpan K-2S0 was top notch. On the antagonist side, Ben Mendelsohn as Director Orson Krennic, the Chief Very Bad White Villain, kept pace with the obvious fan-favorite focus on Darth Vader. Not an easy task. Felicity Jones’ Jyn Erso, the Stock Female Badass Protagonist With Eyeliner, gave an average performance, but in some scenes she had her moments.
4 – As it relates to the Star Wars universe in general, the film was intentionally darkwashed and feminized—two of the film’s writers said so, going so far as retconning the Empire into a white supremacist organization. Fighting against racial imperialism is actually a good thing, but note that nearly no white supremacists/imperialists exist—being pro-white (or pro-any-race) is nowhere near the same thing as being pro-white-racial-imperialism. If you can’t parse that difference, or feel the need to special plead for certain demographics, you’ve been successfully propagandized.
Check the trailer below. We know that Darth Vader dies in Return of the Jedi, so he’s out. Vader’s outfit is completely black and he’s voiced by a black actor, so I’m not even sure he counts in the first place. There’s K-2SO, voiced by Alan Tudyk, but he’s in dark metallic plating, and Rebel-affiliated droids are notoriously hardy.
So that leaves Galen Erso and Director Krennic. I’m going to double down and say both will be killed: Krennic because he’s the only higher-up evil white guy (but I repeat myself) that the protag, Jyn Erso, needs to defeat (usually by justified homicide), and Galen because he’s the protag’s father. If Krennic kills Galen it would supercharge Jyn’s motivation and provide a good opportunity for megafeels when she gets her revenge.
I jest in my half-satire. I’ll enjoy this as much as every other Star Wars-related movie. There’s a good cast and story, and it looks to be something grittier and more adult-oriented than past franchise installments.
When a prequel is made with ultra-modern filmmaking technology—CGI and the like—the visual effects are “held back” when illustrating the in-universe technology to match its look and feel. This only seems to affect prequels, not sequels or reboots, since prequels necessarily take place in the in-universe’s past.
I tried Googling some things, but I’m coming up short. There may already be a term for this but the algorithm gods have it in for me.
One of the biggest example of this phenomenon (dilemma?) is the ending of Revenge of the Sith (unable to embed it). There’s three scenes in the closing montage that have sets shown in a A New Hope, which was filmed nearly 30 years prior: the all-white interior of the Tantive IV with Bail Organa and the droids (from 0:00 to 0:14), the interior of the Venator-class Destroyer with Vader and Palpatine (1:04 to 1:37), and, to a lesser extent, the moisture farm on Tatooine with Obi-Wan passing off baby Luke to Owen and Beru (2:25 to 3:21, the very end of which is one of the greatest visuals in the prequels, in my opinion).
Lots of music-based and tech stuff this time, and two Onion links. Am I getting jolly as I get older?
4 Sets of Identical Twins Pull Off NYC Subway Prank – Awkwardly pulled off, but great idea.
Star Wars Main Theme – Single by Galactic Empire – Even the plates on the amps are translated!
Animated Covers – Brilliant and mesmerizing.
Rush’s 2112 Comic Book Suite – Every other lyric video pales in comparison.
Pathetic, Washed-Up Rock Star On Fifth Decade Of Doing Exactly What He Always Wanted – “… the washed-up loser who has been able to walk out on a stage multiple nights a week for more than four decades and play music of his own creation while being cheered on enthusiastically by a paying audience.”
Microsoft deletes ‘teen girl’ AI after it became a Hitler-loving sex robot within 24 hours – LOL, but then there’s this…
Video Game Boss Thinking He Should Get Big Glowing Weak Spot On Back Checked Out – I instantly knew from what game that screenshot came. What do I win?
As The Story Grows, Chapter 53 – My son makes his podcast debut (at the very end). Thanks to Travis, Jeremiah, and Seth for hanging out a few weekends ago. They made me want to have Twitter for 6 seconds.
So, something new. My friend Seth W and I recorded our semi-structured conversation the other day, and we decided to publish it.
Seth talks about Offscreen Magazine
I possibly misuse an economics term
I forgot the name of the Metal Made Flesh graphic novel Kickstarter
Seth talks about the Star Wars book Death Star
I talk about Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes, based on the short story Any Friend of Nicholas Nickleby Is a Friend of Mine (which I forgot)
We talk about Brompton Bikes, Chrome Industries bags and tell a bike story
Facebook friend Mike Duran posted about the Bechdel Test on his wall recently. I had never heard of it, but I’m happy to report any conversation between women appearing in Pale Blue Scratch fails the test. Well, not exactly happy; I’m really indifferent toward it. However, I don’t play the gender culture war and I don’t acknowledge finger-wagging moralists (looking at you, feminists and MRAs). That something I create might fail a silly test of one side is icing on the cake.
So, as a modest proposal, I offer my own test: the Jay Test (working title…I’m not that conceited, and “Jay Test” is easy to remember). Here it is, called out via the glorious h2 HTML tag:
I use 90% because of the non-academic estimate on my part—90% of all deaths in narratives seem to be male deaths. The “male death” ratio is heavily skewed by war films and books, simply because wars produce the greatest number of deaths. There are other genres—horror, for example—where the deaths aren’t as one sided, but the death count isn’t nearly as high.
For the record, not only does Pale Blue Scratch fail the Bechdel Test, it fails the Jay Test, too. Spectacularly. Lots of dudes dying in that book. No ladies.
EDIT: To tie this into Star Wars, as is the subject of this blog lately, see this video*. It’s a little flabbergasting to me, that a half-naked (attractive) female has a parent so riled up, when in the Star Wars prequels, there are damn well over 4 million cloned men, created specifically to fight and die in battle. The clones were also “conditioned to be absolutely obedient.” If Star Wars has a sexism issue, it’s this one. As I said, I don’t care about this…creating a clone army of men makes perfect sense, since men are more drawn to perform physical violence, etc. I’m using this example via reasoning by another framework, not my own.
* Interesting point about Leia’s slave outfit: it’s supposed to be demeaning. That Jabba stuck her in one is within his character, and the nature of owning another person. You’re not going to give a slave, male or female, a crown and scepter, are you?
EDIT 2: I’m retracting my perfect failure score for the Jay Test, for Pale Blue Scratch. There’s a scene were some people die, but it’s not explicit that it’s only men. In my mind, there were women involved. Also, “casualty” should be more defined if the test were to be administered. Is it just deaths, or can physical injury count? If it’s the latter, a female character in PBS gets injured often, almost critically.
I mentioned before that I thought Rey could be Luke Skywalker’s daughter, and there are theories that she could be Obi-Wan Kenobi’s granddaughter. There were hints of Obi-Wan being romantically/relationally attached to someone, in the prequels, and in the Expanded Universe (EU), Luke had children with Mara Jade. Since a lot of the EU isn’t canon anymore, anything could happen.
What I do predict is that Rey will bring the prophesied balance to the Force, the balance that Anakin failed to bring in the prequels. But, one possible path Abrams, et al, could take is a Hegelian balance: she will end up being not a Jedi or a Sith, but a synthesis of the two opposing sides.
There was a hint of this Hegelian resolution theory that Mace Windu, one of my favorite Jedis, was the chosen one, and Windu’s death scene in Revenge of the Sith can support this. At that point, Anakin was still a Jedi, and Palpatine was a Sith. Notice how Windu’s willingness to kill a defenseless (seeming) Palpatine would’ve been an action both the Jedi and the Sith would oppose. Windu embodied the balance of the Force by synthesizing both Jedi and Sith, while transcending them both. Windu, both literally and ideologically, was caught between the two, and Anankin’s choice to side against Windu tipped the scales over to the Sith.
Abrams can emphasize this by making Rey a child of a Jedi—a Skywalker or Kenobi—and a Sith. Since Rey looks fully human, the mother would have to be human, which lends a little more credence to the Mara Jade scenario, if Abrams decided to rewrite her as a Sith.
If Rae will be the balance, this brings in another question: the Jedi (Luke and anyone else), and the Sith (Kylo Ren, Snoke, and anyone else), will have to somehow relinquish their use of the Force. If neither side is willing to do that, would Rey need to defeat them both…which means, if Luke is her father, she’d have to defeat him. This would tie up the prophecy plot line from the prequels, as well as end the literal cycle of the Jedi vs. Sith power struggle.
GeekxGirls posted on Kylo Ren’s lightsaber battles, and they have similar thoughts to what I’ve been gassing on about. From “Kylo vs Finn and Rey – You’re Missing the Damn Point!”, regarding his injury from Chewbacca’s bowcaster:
So…after being shown the pure unadulterated hell that spews forth from this hand-held death cannon in a deluge of destruction and demise, we can all agree that being shot with this thing tops a long list of things you don’t want to happen to you.
Well, it happens to Kylo Ren.
And, what does he do? Well, he doesn’t get thrown through the air like every other fucking thing that gets hit by this murder machine. In fact, he just kind of takes a knee for a minute. He doesn’t get instantly wrecked while careening through the air hoping for the sweet release of death. He gets up, and proceeds to walk it the fuck off.
But, he doesn’t just quit there. He doesn’t just walk off what everything else in the universe instantly dies from. He goes out to find a couple bitches, and tear them apart.
Abrams, et al, went out of his way to show a few times, prior to the Han Solo death scene, how powerful the bowcaster is. Ren probably had mitigated the bowcaster’s effect somewhat using Force Deflection, though imperfectly. After being injured, there are other Force powers he could’ve used.
Ren is impulsive and young, for sure, but, as the last sentence in GeekxGirls’ post says, there’s probably more to him than some may accredit him.