REBELLIONS ARE BUILT ON HOPE | ROGUE ONE REVIEW

THE UNCANNY VALLEY IS STRONG WITH THIS ONE.

I’ve learned a few things in my time as an old hermit. Chief amongst them is thinking about a Star Wars movie in depth before voicing what you think of it as a whole. It’s something that takes great willpower, as Star Wars is something that surrounds us and binds us, much like the power of the Force itself. But the power of first impressions when leaving a crowded theater is easy, more seductive. You may want to scream out your final opinion! You may want to pull a Kevin Smith and say, “Is Attack of the Clones better than The Phantom Menace? I can say so with an emphatic YES.” and then look like a silly fool! But resist, and never give a Star Wars movie a score immediately afterwards. Never.

When leaving The Force Awakens, my friends looked at me in silence. “Well?” I stared into the night sky and finally said, “I’m not sure.” as I faded into the dark. It took me seeing that one a few more times before I settled on an opinion. I ended up with the stance that I loved the new characters and it was great seeing the old ones. The plot was a retread of A New Hope and ugh Starkiller base and the rushed plan to destroy it, but yay! the lightsaber duel in the snow as the base begins to destruct and Luke.

But after two hours of introspection… What did I think about Rogue One: A Star Wars Story? Here’s my spoiler free thoughts.

After the prologue of Rogue One ends the following ten minutes takes place in about as many locations. It’s jarring and the speed of which things move is too compared to other Star Wars films. There’s no real need for there to be so many locations and all are weird alien names.

Rogue One doesn’t settle down until Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) and Captain Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) are on the desert winter moon of Jedha, a site for pilgrims from across the galaxy who seek spiritual guidance and once a place important to the Jedi as we see in fallen statues. Here’s where they recruit the rest of their squad of misfits: Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed) a former Imperial pilot, and two Guardians of the Whills in the duo of Baze Malbus (Wen Jiang) who carries a version of a mini-gun laser blaster equipped with a giant energy tank on his back and Chirrut Îmwe (Donnie Yen), a blind man who believes in the Force more so than anyone in Rogue One.


Chirrut Îmwe, accompanied by Baze’s covering fire, steal much of the show. Îmwe is a complete badass. At one point, he casually takes his staff and opens it up, pulls it back almost like a bow to arm it as a blaster rifle, and proceeds to shoot a TIE fighter out of the sky with one shot.

If he wasn’t a Jedi in the days before the Empire then I’ll drink a whole thing of that blue milk.

This is a great role for legendary martial artist, Donnie Yen. The only other character he’s showed up by is the reprogrammed Imperial droid, K-2SO played by Alan Tudyk. He’s hilarious and different from anything we’ve seen in the Star Wars movies to date. Without his comedic relief, often in dire situations, Rogue One would be hard to get through at times.

We’re all aware that the mission of these characters is suicide. They’re a small group going head to head against the Galactic Empire in their prime of power. Rogue One doesn’t sugar coat this as I thought it may. People die in this story and they certainly aren’t coming back. But count me in for the Chirrut Îmwe: A Star Wars Story prequel.


The last 45 minutes are some of the best sequences we’ve seen from any of the Star Wars films, what’s conflicting is that everything that’s lead up to that feels slightly off.

Not that it’s bad, but something isn’t connecting how it should. I think a big part of that is the lackluster score by Michael Giacchino. Giacchino was one of my favorite composers of recent years having given us themes for LOST, The Incredibles, Speed Racer, and Star Trek. But lately his scores have fallen into the James Horner pattern of repeating themselves (Horner’s Wrath of Khan theme is almost identical to his score for Aliens).

Listen to his latest score for Doctor Strange (skip to the 2:15 mark) and compare it to the rebooted Star Trek theme (skip to the :42 mark). However, his biggest problem with his first score for a Star Wars movie (I’m sure he’ll do more) is that it barely resembles anything. There’s elements of the Star Wars themes, but overall it’s too bombastic and generic.

In a movie where I see the Death Star and the Empire at it’s full strength you bet your ass that we should hear the Imperial March and not this stuff that flirts with giving you the hint of it. This isn’t foreplay, this is the show.

One thing that I can’t get past no matter how I come at it is the fan service.

There’s so much of it in Rogue One that it pulls you out of the story that’s supposed to be dramatic, but when you see it then you can’t help but be excited or laugh or talk to your friend about seeing the same X-Wing pilot from A New Hope. It’s fan service is a disservice to the story it’s telling. But let’s get into specifics…


FROM THIS POINT ON I WILL DISCUSS SPOILERS. YOU’VE BEEN WARNED. MANY BOTHANS DIED TO BRING US THIS.


Just kidding, Bothans weren’t mentioned in this movie at all. Not one damn time! Probably because they stole the plans for the SECOND Death Star and not this first one.

There also wasn’t a title crawl. This threw a lot of people off. I’m sure it was the topic of much debate amongst the people who made this, but again, something felt off about it.

Grand Moff Tarkin is in Rogue One. A lot. I thought at first they would only use his reflection and have him in one or two scenes like this, but I was wrong. They use the likeness of Peter Cushing who passed away in 1994 for at least five minutes of screen time and it isn’t quite right. You can tell he’s not real, but he’s damn close to being real. This is pure uncanny valley territory here. It’s even more bizarre seeing Princess Leia like this at the end of the film. A simple shot of her covering her face and showing those buns, buns of hair I mean! That would have been enough to clue you in if it wasn’t already obvious enough. R2 could have been rolling towards her and just as the camera raises, he’s close enough to her to show her face is covered. It works better and avoids the creepiness of the de-aging CG that was used.

We also have a scene where there is more CGI trickery used to make a Rebel pilot look like one from A New Hope, but then really jarringly we see another pilot that was also in A New Hope, but his surroundings look like a scene directly lifted from the original movie. This really pulls you out of the story and the moment, not to mention robs you of any dramatic tension as we know these characters actually don’t die yet.

We also have other nods like the Mos Eisley thugs that met their demise at Old Ben’s lightsaber. They literally bump into a character and repeat the same lines they did in 1977. At this rate I was waiting for Alden Ehrenreich to show up and say, “I’m a scoundrel who loves to shoot first. I KNOW.” But I guess we’ll have to do with R2 and Threepio instead.

These nods are honestly the worst. I would have been okay with seeing a character in the background, but not directly like we had multiple times here. At one point we here someone talk to Captain Antilles offscreen and that’s the perfect type of Easter egg.


What’s really good though is that last 45 minutes. Battles on land and in space, and an example of why Darth Vader was feared across the galaxy.

When characters start dying quickly left and right you get the sense that nobody is going to make it. This is where this Star Wars story begins to shine and hit the way it should. They’ve accomplished their goal, but nothing else. Baze holding his fellow Guardian of the Whills repeating his mantra of, “I’m one with the Force. The Force is one with me.” is one of the better moments and I’ll be damned if I didn’t think that Îmwe wasn’t about to fade into the Force like Yoda and Ben did. Jyn and Cassian holding each other as the tidal wave of fire at the hands of the Death Star blast was a great visual that was both inspiring and saddening as war is. The scene that proceeded where they almost kissed was groan worthy though.

The scene that will have everyone talking though is the Darth Vader attack. You hear his breathing in the shadows and then his lightsaber ignites, bathing the corridor in red. Dozens of Rebel troops fire at him as he makes his way closer towards the plans to the Death Star that they are trying to hand off. They’re like football players with no time left on the clock that keep tossing the ball around in hopes of escape, only there’s a Sith Lord cutting his way towards you and Force choking the life out of those he doesn’t run through. It’s an amazing scene that accomplishes making Vader scary again after the prequels and our pop culture have robbed him of his villainy.

As a whole I’m not sure where I stand on Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. I don’t have firm grounding on it yet. I loved Donnie Yen and K-2SO, the return of a scary Darth Vader, and the final battle, but much like Peter Cushing’s face there is something that is off about it. For now at least. But I will trust in the Force for it is my ally. Always.

NISSAN ROGUE ONE: STAR WARS EDITION

WITNESS SPACESHIP EARTH TURN INTO THE DEATH STAR

The transformation into the Empire’s super weapon is about as awesome as you thought it would be.

I just watched the livestream and I’m beyond excited. Disney and Star Wars together creating moments like these are what memories are made of. I’m a 34 year old man and I won’t ever forget this. And that’s having watched it from my television in my living room 2 hours away from Epcot.

If you were lucky enough to go to the event then I am envious. And if you brought your little ones? Man, what a time to be a kid. If your children saw this in the park or even at home, I can’t imagine they aren’t awestruck. It’s just so cool. Of course it’s celebrating a giant super weapon called the Death Star that destroys planets, but let’s not get down on that one little element!

Here’s the whole half hour livestream below with some really cool images further below. If you want to see the Death Star then skip to the 21:00 mark because the hosts and first guest are about as fun to watch as it was for Poe to be mind raped by Kylo Ren.

Let’s discuss the details of the livestream.

The hosts are straight up AWFUL. Like, they said “May the Force be with you” at least a dozen times. Each time without any enthusiasm from the crowd. There wasn’t one clap from anyone the last time they said it. Everyone was just like, “SHOW ME SPACEHIP EARTH AS DEATH STARRRGH!” and I can’t blame them.

Fortunately, they brought out Mads Mikkelsen (Galen Erso) to keep our attention. And the guy is just the best. One of the best Bond villains, the best Hannibal (yeah, I said it), and so stoically likable. When asked how he was feeling about it all, Mads said,“I’m over the moon!” to which the host had his one good line of the night in replying, “That’s no moon!”

Mads said his character, Galen Erso, was working on something that could have made the world [galaxy] a safer place, but the Empire had other plans. He then introduced a brief clip of Galen having a conversation with Ben Mendelsohn’s, Director Krennic. Galen says to Krennic, “You’re confusing piece with terror.” This was immediately followed with a montage of Rogue One footage with some very quick new imagery, but nothing overly different. It looked like all the rest of the things we’ve seen so far, which, to be frank, is stellar.

Here’s the other Star Wars related parks info below.

1. There are new additions to the Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away daytime show. During the show, fans will be getting a sneak peek at the AWR  Troopers who’ll be working under Director Krennic in Rogue One.

2. Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular will be making its intergalactic return, replacing Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM on New Year’s Eve.

3. Rogue One props are coming to the Star Wars Launch Bay!

4. There will also be new making-of Rogue One footage added to the “Meet the Makers” segment of the cool Star Wars: Path of the Jedi film presented at the Launch Bay.

5. Star Tours: The Adventures Continue will also be getting updates. Beginning in the middle of December, more randomized tracks will be making their way into the ride. On top of that, the attraction will both start and end at different Star Wars locations.

6. Last but not least, an all-new Star Warsthemed tour will be offered on Mondays and Saturdays throughout 2017 starting January 2. The seven hour adventure will take guests on Star Tours: The Adventures Continue, offer a meet and greet with Chewbacca and Kylo Ren at the Star Wars Launch Bay, an insider tour of the Launch Bay, a viewing of Star Wars: Path of the Jedi, and Star Wars-themed cuisine at Backlot Express. The tour will conclude with the Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular Dessert Party, with a special viewing of the accompanying show.

Really cool stuff, but the detail they’re leaving out about Star Tours is that one of the new updates is a scene from Star Wars: Episode VIII starting in 2017!

But enough of that really cool and interesting stuff that I’m totally checking out as soon as possible–How was Spaceship earth’s transformation into the Death Star? View the pics below!

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I literally was caught on video going, “Ohhhhhhwwww!” or something similar to whatever the hell that is when the Death Star’s super laser went off. Just as I wished it would when we first reported about this event (also, my Photoshopping was ON POINT).

Now excuse me while I go to Epcot forever.

“THAT’S NO MOON, IT’S A SPACESHIP EARTH!”

Spaceship Earth will become the Star Wars Death Star during special after hours event at Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

On December 5, 2016, the Disney Parks Blog is hosting a meet-up celebrating Star Wars at Disney’s Hollywood Studios as well as the upcoming film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story with an invite-only meet-up that will feature the Epcot landmark Spaceship Earth using the power of the Force to transform into the Death Star.

From the Disney Parks Blog site:

During our Star Wars celebration, Spaceship Earth will be transformed into the Death Star through digital projections. And before the Death Star appears, we will be sharing updates on current and upcoming Star Wars experiences at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

It’s sold out of course, but you can watch it live on the Disney Parks Blog on Monday night. We will be reporting some pictures and video of this when they become available.

Here’s hoping the Death Star uses its super laser to “destroy” landmarks with accompanying fireworks!

Disney used this technology before when Mike Wazowski appeared on the Epcot landmark to announce the the parks staying open after hours. Here’s a picture from that event that should give us a good idea what the fully armed and operational battle station will look like. Or just check out our stellar Photoshopped featured image above natch.

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CHECK OUT DOLBY CINEMA’S ROGUE ONE POSTER

If you are not following Star Wars on Instagram or Twitter then you should. This morning a new poster for Rogue One to be used by Dolby Cinema was revealed. Check it out below:

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Every new piece of information we have received about Rogue One has only raised my anticipation to levels I haven’t experienced since this time last year. The pristine blue of the water and the insignia of the Rebellion reflected in the image of the lonely helmet while Storm Troopers and AT-AT Walkers approach in the background is simply breathtaking. I feel this is going to be a film that spends much more time on the shadows and darker areas of the Star Wars Universe than we have seen up until now. It will be more in line with Empire, and certain parts of The Force Awakens, in that the Rebellion will achieve a great victory, but suffer terrible losses.

You will have your chance to save the Rebellion, save the dream, on December 16th.

NEW INTERNATIONAL TRAILER FOR ROGUE ONE REMINDS US THAT GOOD THINGS ARE STILL HAPPENING

May the Force be with us.

There’s not too much new in this international trailer for Rogue One, but what is new continues to excite. We see a more personal look at Jyn Erso and the relationship she has with her father, Galen (Mads Mikkelsen). She’s given a Kyber crystal by her mother who tells her to “Trust in the Force.”

Kyber crystals are important in the Star Wars universe. They are what the Jedi use to power their lightsabers and all remain colorless until a Jedi bonds with them. The red colored lightsabers of the Sith are due to the corruption of their crystals. I honestly don’t care for this detail on the crystals coloring, but sure. The crystals themselves were often gathered by young Jedi in training. Could Jyn have ties to the Jedi?

What we do know is that Kyber crystals are what powers the super laser of the Death Star. The Empire mined planets that were rich with the crystals and stripped them of everything. Galen Erso is a scientist that looks as if he’s forced to work on the construction of the Death Star in order to spare his family. We don’t believe he’s willingly working with the Empire. Besides the central story of stealing the plans of the Death Star we believe the relationship between Jyn and her father to be a huge factor.

We also have this amazing new shot of the Death Star fully armed and operational firing upon a planet.

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And of course there’s the brief new glimpse of Lord Vader above in our featured image. Star Wars is a blanket of comfort for a lot of people. It gives us hope. “Rebellions are built on hope.” Despite the rise of a galactic Empire there’s good people that exist in this universe. Rebels that defy odds and risk certain death in order to bring peace to the galaxy. It’s a noble cause.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens December 16th.