Saturday, December 17, 2016

Episode 3.5: A New Hopelessness

Alright, you had to know this was coming. It's the internet and I'm about to talk about the new Star Wars, so if you-huh? Yeah, Wars, not Trek. I can like two things. Anyway, so if you don't want me to ruin it for you, stop reading now. Still reading? Because I can't tell. I'm just typing. I can't actually see you.
Anonymity is what make the internet great...also horrible.
Don't you roll your eyes at me.
I'm not the one that made Darth Vader
into a whining child-murder. 
Anyway, not to beat a dead, flannel loving, bearded horse, but George Lucas in making the prequel trilogy seemed to miss what Star Wars fans really liked about Star Wars movies, and also some of the really basic things like, a coherent plot, likable characters and you know, acting. Instead he just crammed in as much CGI weirdness and overly-choreographed lightsaber fights as he possibly could and the results were, you know, what they were. But then, frustrated by the internet and its ability to offer his former fans a way register their ever-increasing disgust at everything he touches, he sold the whole thing to Disney. 

Above: J. J. Abrams stroking the
nostalgia region of our brains.
And now we have decades of entertaining but completely derivative sequels and spin-offs to look forward to, each one carefully calibrated to make all the money ever. But whatever, because the Force Awakens and now Rogue One, seem to get their audience. Or at least how to stroke whichever part of the brain releases the neuro-conductor nostalgamine which is responsible for making us think things are cool because we remember them. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. 

Pictured: Pretty much
this entire movie.
Rogue One has all the things Star Wars fans love: practical effects, sassy robots, and a space admiral who's also a fish and sounds like Winston Churchill. Win. But where Force Awakens simply remade A New Hope, Rogue One actually tells a new story, albeit one that's built out of parts we're already familiar with, but it's also a heavier story. Like, where as most of the previous movies were light-hearted romps with occasional planetary annihilations, this one's a little dark. 

"Humor is my coping mechanism
ok? Also drugs. Lots of drugs."
-Former Princess Leia
Take the first movie for example. Princess Leia watches helplessly as her home planet, her parents and practically everyone she's ever known is explodulated just to prove a point. Well, two points. One, that the Empire isn't just fucking around and two, that Dantooine is kind of a schlep. Anyway, like twenty minutes after suffering an incomprehensible loss, she's making short jokes about Luke. Rogue One meanwhile makes sure we're good and attached to characters before making us watch them die horribly. 

That's not to say there isn't any humor, it's just that most of the funny comes from Alan Tudyk's psychotic droid and the punchline is usually him crushing an Imperial officer's skull. 
Pictured: K2SO hilariously chucking a grenade at some
Stormtroopers who, in their defense, are just trying to do their job. 
Dex, the overweight cockroach who
runs a diner in Episode 2 isn't weird,
he's just stupid as all hell (source: fact). 
It does have some things that aren't so great, notably Grand Moff Tarkin, played by the computer animated corpse of the late Peter Cushing. It's unsettling at best. Kind of wish they kept him to a minimum but instead, there he is creeping everybody out pretty much throughout. Like, this is a Star Wars movie, so fully CGI characters aren't anything new, but they're usually robots or aliens so any un-realness is chalked up to that. Tarkin, on the other hand looks like he just stepped off the Polar Express. It's kind of distracting.

The most embarrassing thing would be that
time he whined about how chaffing sand can be.
Oh and then there's the pun. Again, spoiler alert, but Darth Vader makes an appearance in his fabulous castle on Mustafar. Because of course he'd want a place with a nice view of the flowing rivers of lava where he was horrible mutilated. So we visit case de Vader and get to see him relaxed at home and get this, cracking jokes while force choking his underlings. I'm not saying this is the most embarrassing thing we've ever seen Darth Vader do, it was just a little weird seeing the guy who betrayed and then murdered like all the Jedi, including the children, making a funny.

Anyway, like I said, Rogue One was good. Like, totally good. It hits all the points you probably want in a Star Wars without the feeling that it was just retreading previous entries in the series. But it was grim. Griiiiiim. Like, I'm not going to go into specifics here, but don't get too attached to anyone in this movie. 
Especially these guys. Farewell Trooper 773, we hardly knew ye.

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