Second Thoughts on Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Yesterday, I caught Rogue One: A Star Wars Story for the second time. My first viewing was in IMAX 3D. The second time around it was in 2D Sony 4K. Naturally, I have additional random thoughts on the movie, as well as some points I forgot to make in my first story. Below are more musings on this fine film, directed by Gareth Edwards and conceived by the wonderful Gary Whitta. You may turn on your spoiler shields when ready.

Continue reading “Second Thoughts on Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”

Star Wars 4K Exists, According to Gareth Edwards

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story director Gareth Edwards told Little White Lies that he watched a 4K Ultra HD version of Star Wars: A New Hope. Confirmation that Star Wars 4K exists is huge news for fans of the series. That said, there are several questions that fans will still want the answers to. Which version of the movie was converted to 4K? And when will Star Wars 4K be available? Before I dive into those questions, here are Edwards’ exact words.

We were in Lucasfilm in San Francisco with Industrial Light and Magic and John Knowles, our supervisor, he said that they’ve got a brand new 4K restoration print of A New Hope — it had literally just been finished.

Continue reading “Star Wars 4K Exists, According to Gareth Edwards”

Not a Review of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is a fantastic movie, but for fans that grew up watching the original trilogy, it’s something more. Rogue One has a Star Wars feel, but with more mature and more evolved sensibilities. For those longtime Star Wars fans that were kids when they first saw the originals, it’s a stellar experience. As their tastes have developed and matured, moviemaking has developed and matured. While I recommend the movie to anyone that’s the least bit nerdy, it’s a must-see (and see again) for sci-fi nerds of a certain age.

Having said all that, I had some minor issues with the film. As great as Rogue One was, I can’t help but wonder if it would have been a better movie with the original writers and without the reshoots. There were also some minor details that were convenient to the plot, but bothered me as a rational human being. That means, of course, it’s time for some random thoughts on Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Lock your S-foils in spoiler formation and let’s blow this thing (and go home?).

Continue reading “Not a Review of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”

Random Thoughts on Star Wars: The Force Awakens

There’s so much that I want to say about Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Thankfully, this website lets me share my (silly) stream of consciousness with the world. Today’s “not a review” uses the tried and true RPadTV binary system for lots of random thoughts on the latest chapter in the Star Wars saga. Here’s the short version — I loved it and will happily pay money to see it again in theaters…several times.

Like most nerds, I love the original Star Wars trilogy. That said, I probably enjoyed the prequels more than most (don’t get me wrong, Jar Jar and Ani suck). I also greatly enjoyed director JJ Abrams’ two Star Trek movies. Going into The Force Awakens, I had high but reasonably tempered expectations. I’m happy to say that my expectations were exceeded. The Force Awakens is a phenomenally fun movie. Now kindly turn on your spoiler shields and lock your S-foils in attack position for some random thoughts on Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

The Force Awakens Review b

Mark Out Moments (Good): The Force Awakens had four moments that overwhelmed my heart and had me holding back tears of joy.

  • The first time the Millennium Falcon is shown
  • Seeing the new X-wing fighters
  • The first time R2D2 is shown
  • Rey using the force to grab a lightsaber

 

These scenes dazzled me and had me believing in movie magic again. In the immortal words of Sergio from Get Him to the Greek, they left me feeling “like an eight-year old who just discovered his first boner.” While I’ve marked out at the movies before, I don’t recall ever feeling so high from a film. It almost makes you feel bad for younger people that didn’t grow up with the original Star Wars movies, since they won’t have those nostalgia-fueled mark-out moments.

A New Scoundrel (Good): Resistance pilot Poe Dameron stole the show early on. He’s one of the best pilots in the galaxy and has a roguish charm. When he’s captured by The First Order and brought face to face with baddie Kylo Ren, Poe quips in the face of danger. He’s supposed to be terrified, but playfully says, “Are you talking first? Or am I? Who’s supposed to talk first?” It’s a nice eff you to Kylo Ren and peril in general. For the rest of the movie, Poe is pretty much the good guy male moviegoers want to be.

The Force Awakens Review c

Finn Grow on You (Good): Initially, Finn comes off as flat and uninteresting. Part of the problem is that he was paired with Poe in the earliest portion of the movie (Poe will always be “the cool one”). Over the course of The Force Awakens, Finn grows on you and then you realize that he’s a fantastic perspective character. Yes, he does heroic things, but he also has moments of freak-out cowardice, lies about his identity, and overstates his importance. He behaves in a wonderfully realistic way that’s layered, nuanced, and easy to relate to. While he starts off flat (perhaps intentionally), John Boyega’s multifaceted importance and comic timing were impressive.

Rey Kicks Ass (Good): When protagonist Rey first appeared I said, “Look, it’s less-attractive Keira Knightley.” (Partially because of her bone structure, but more for her accent) As The Force Awakens went on, she became more-talented Keira Knightley, which ultimately made her more-attractive Keira Knightley.

Rey is one of the coolest and most kick-ass female characters in sci-fi. She’s capable on several levels, equally adept at scavenging for valuable goods, jury rigging the Millennium Falcon, and fighting with a lightsaber. While there are more and more powerful female characters in mainstream movies all the time, Rey might be the most important, simply because Star Wars is huge. Daisy Ridley did a wonderful job bringing a new heroine to life. Her progression from desert scavenger to force heroine was enjoyable and mysterious. I kind of wish that I had a daughter that idolized her.

The Force Awakens Review d

No Jar Jars (Good): The Force Awakens didn’t have any annoying aliens that got way too much screen time, annoying kids that somehow grow up to be menacing villains, and wooden young adults that (also) grow up to be menacing villains. The Jar Jar factor was probably my biggest fear going into the movie. I’m grateful that The Force Awakens didn’t have any Jar Jars or Anis.

Too Much Imitation (Possibly Bad): The biggest potential issue with The Force Awakens is that it, perhaps, is too beholden to the original trilogy. It contains many similarities and hits many of the same beats as A New Hope. Here are some examples — droid with important info gets stuck on crappy desert planet, protagonist in bland clothing finds said droid, good guys look for help at an intergalactic dive bar, bad guys build enormous spherical weapon, good guys attempt to blow up said weapon by attacking minuscule design flaw, main baddy wears a mask that gives him a menacing voice, baddy’s boss is fond of video chat, one of the X-wing pilots is overweight, mentor character dies, etc.

Some fans will feel that these instances are flattering imitation and a respectful homage to the first Star Wars film. Others will feel that they’re unoriginal and prevent The Force Awakens from being truly fresh. Personally, I enjoyed all of these moments. History has a tendency to repeat itself, even in a galaxy far away. That said, I understand if some moviegoers feel that The Force Awakens has too many similarities to A New Hope. (I will also classify those people as heartless killjoys.)

Greg Grunberg is the New Jek Porkins: I love that Greg Grunberg is in this film. I need a bestie like JJ Abrams, so that I can get roles in all of his work. More importantly, I love that Grunberg’s Snap Wexley is an overweight X-wing pilot. I am positive that Wexley’s real last name is Porkins and that he changed it to escape the sizable shadow of his heroic father.

Spoilers (Good): Disney was pretty tight with advanced screenings and did an amazing job containing press leaks. With the way today’s Internet and social media work, it’s shocking that the company was able to control information as well as it did. I was genuinely surprised about Kylo Ren’s parentage. While it was telegraphed in the movie, I’m amazed that Han Solo’s death wasn’t plastered all over the Internet weeks before the release of The Force Awakens.

Kylo Ren Temper Tantrums (Good): There were two scenes where Kylo Ren threw fits and lightsaber-ed the crap out of everything around him. Compared to how cool and controlled previous Star Wars villains were, it was fun watching him lose his sh*t. I loved it when Kylo Ren was throwing a tantrum offscreen and two stormtroopers were shown turning around. I bet their conversation went something like this:

Stormtrooper 1: “Oh crap. Wannabe sith is having another one of his bitch fits.”
Stormtrooper 2: “Yeah, let’s head to the canteen while the IT department cleans up his mess.”
Stormtropper 1: “I hope they have the penne with peas again.” (Eddie Izzard reference ftw!)

Lightsaber Duels (Good): The fight between Rey and Kylo Ren might be my favorite lightsaber fight to date. The ones from the original trilogy were fairly basic. The ones from the prequels had moments of brilliant choreography, but were overdone and had too many instances of people swinging at lightsabers instead of bodies. (Watch me execute this dynamic CG flip and swing my lightsaber ever so fiercely at your lightsaber!) The lightsaber showdown in The Force Awakens was more interesting than the original duels and more realistic than the prequel fights.

Harrison Ford Has Fun (Good): I wasn’t expecting so much Han Solo in the movie, but am grateful for all of his scenes. Old Han Solo is damaged and brittle, but still the scoundrel that everyone loved from the original movies. I couldn’t help thinking about the last time Harrison Ford reprised an old role. Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull felt laborious, as if playing the character was a burden for Ford. In The Force Awakens, he appears to be genuinely enjoying himself and having fun with the Han Solo character. While his sarcasm is toned down, he awesomely busts out a few old-school Solo-isms every now and then.

C-3PO’s Entrance (Good): This was just about perfect. Han and Leia are having an emotional moment when 3PO interrupts and kills it. Bwahahahahahahaha!!!

General Hux (Good): While he wasn’t quite the new Tarkin, Hux was a nice addition to The Force Awakens. He’s a manipulative and competitive sociopath. His dynamic with Kylo Ren was fun. Domhnall Gleeson did a great job at making this character such an unlikable dick. You can’t wait to see him eventually get blown up or sliced with a lightsaber. As a sci-fi/fantasy nerd, I love that an actor from the Harry Potter franchise is playing a part in the new Star Wars movies.

Bottom Line: Anyway, those are some assorted thoughts on Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I have many more floating around in my head, but I want to hear what you thought of the film. Please leave a comment below with your opinions and observations on Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I hope we have an awesomely nerdy discussion!

Addendum (Updated Dec-18 2:11PM)

Kylo Samberg (Bad?): Adam Driver is funny looking. With his big nose and poofy hair, he had me thinking about another funny-looking actor — Andy Samberg. Whenever Kylo Ren was onscreen, 11 percent of my brain thought about him unmasking to reveal Andy Samberg’s dopey face.

More Keira (Good): My buddy Paul brought up an interesting point about Daisy Ridley’s resemblance to Keira Knightley. Perhaps it was intentional. Knightley did play one of Queen Amidala’s handmaidens/decoys/pieces of cannon fodder in The Phantom Menace. The resemblance between Natalie Portman and Keira Knightley even confused their respective mothers during the filming of the prequels. Having a young actress with similar looks would make sense if Rey turns out to be part of the Skywalker bloodline.

Japanese Star Wars: The Force Awakens Trailer

Are you ready for more Star Wars: The Force Awakens? If you answered yes then check out the Japanese trailer for the most anticipated nerd movie of the last decade. There’s a bunch of new footage and dialogue that wasn’t shown in the American trailer. Kindly check out the clip when you have a chance and let me know what you think of the international trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens in the comments section. And just because it’s Friday, may the Force be with you. #ForceFriday

Random Thoughts on Star Wars: The Force Awakens Final Trailer

Last night, millions of nerds cried out because they had to watch an American football game in order to catch the final trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Since it’s the biggest nerd movie of 2015, I want to hear your thoughts on the trailer (embedded below, for your convenience). I’ve watched the clip thrice and will watch it lots more before the movie comes out on December 18. For now, here are some random thoughts on the final trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

00:08: The trailer kicks of with Rey (Daisy Ridley) dressed as an albino teenage mutant ninja turtle. Her outfit is useful in the arid environment of Tatooine…because, you know, sand. As Anakin Skywalker once said about sand, “It’s coarse and irritating and it gets everywhere.”

00:39: Finn (John Boyega) takes off his stormtrooper helmet. Some longtime Star Wars fans have a problem with Finn (presumably) becoming a Jedi. In Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Yoda said that a six-year old Anakin Skywalker was too old to become a Jedi. Finn appears to be in his 20s, so some hardcore nerds have an issue with him being the next “chosen one,” while Fox News has an issue with a…melanin-enhanced person becoming a Jedi. Also, Finn appears to suck at piloting his T.I.E. fighter. So yeah, an old (for Jedi training) stormtrooper reject is your new hero!

00:50: There be lens flare. You really didn’t think JJ Abrams would drop it, did you?

00:53: Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) has a bad-ass name and a bad-ass voice. Too bad his helmet makes him look like an evil aardvark. The good news is that he’s a fan of Transformers: The Movie and quotes a song from the soundtrack to Darth Vader’s helmet.

01:05: The Millennium Falcon appears, in all of its shabby glory. You’ve never heard of the Millennium Falcon? This part of the trailer made me mark out and become a kid again.

01:15: Han Solo (Harrison Ford), looking as leathery as a worn out saddle bag, appears and tells the kids, “It’s true.” Apparently news dissemination sucks in their world, making it so that tank girl and a stormtrooper reject are ignorant of recent history. Clearly they have the technology, but apparently there weren’t any bloggers a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

01:17: The first warp lines appear. JJ Abrams did an excellent job modernizing warp lines in the recent Star Trek movies. These old-school warp effects look like stick figures. I guess they have nostalgic value. *shrug*

01:24: Kylo Ren is flanked by what appears to be imperial guards. Some people say they’re his Sith followers, but that would have him breaking the Sith rule of two. Either way, having a gang makes him look like a bit of a pussy. Darth Vader didn’t need any backup.

01:25: I love the X-Wing, but am disappointed that it hasn’t made any significant advancements (to the naked eye) in 30 years. Hell, Airbus and Boeing move at a glacial pace and even their birds look considerably sleeker than ones from 30 years ago.

01:40: Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) is whining to R2-D2 about not being in the official movie poster. That’s what he gets for going to Toshi Station to pick up some power converters, which apparently constitutes playing with your friends in Tatooine.

01:46: Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), what a wookiee. Finn, Chewie, and Han appear to be getting arrested. Some things never change for scoundrels.

01:57: Princess Leia (Carrie Fischer) cries on Han’s shoulder, sad about what a hottie she was in the late 70s and early 80s. Hopefully they don’t show old Leia in a metal bikini.

01:58: Finn starts a lightsaber duel with Kylo Ren. He leads with a strong stance, but looks inept after that. This has lead some people to believe that Finn isn’t Force sensitive. I’m not sure about any of that. Swordsmanship is a fine art that’s difficult to master. When you add in laser swords and the fact that Finn sucked as a stormtrooper, of course he’s not going to be the best dualist. On a side note, my favorite lightsaber form is Soresu. What’s yours?

Anyway, that’s what I observed from the Star Wars: The Force Awakens final trailer. I’m sure that you guys and gals noticed many things that I did not and that certain bits meant much more to you than they did to me. With that in mind, kindly use the Force, let go, and share your thoughts on the trailer in the comments section.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Trailer Two

As part of the “Star Wars Celebration” event in Anaheim, Disney has released the second trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Naturally (for nerds), this is a monumental occasion that requires abundant introspection and discussion. The trailer features several characters new to the Star Wars saga, as well as some old fan favorites (I’m talking original trilogy!). I’ve watched it once and I’m totally geeked out, but need to watch it a few dozen times throughout the day in order to temper my excitement.

More importantly, I want to know what you gungans, wookiees, and ewoks think of Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer two. Check out the clip below and let’s talk about it in the comments section (please!).