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“Many Bothans died” – no wait, this is Death Star I …

How to discuss this without giving anything away?

The family and I saw Rogue One tonight at 7 pm. It’s a small victory of mine that I’ve managed to get my wife to accept that this is something that I really can’t let pass without seeing the first available time of premier night. So that’s a good start right there.

This evening went without the fanfare that would have come had we gone to a larger theater or seen it on IMAX in 3D while drinking a film-based beverage and wearing our galaxy premier sweatshirts. (That was The Force Awakens at Cinetopia last year) Instead, we were in the small theater right down the road from our house and only one person was wearing anything approaching cosplay. I admit that I wish we had done the big theater thing again, but I was a day late getting tickets and we had to go where we could to get a 7 pm showtime.

78c208f13001c91231299bd2eb476c19What was important? … The fact that I still got goosebumps when the lights went down. And for a moment, I was in the aisle seat in the back of one of the Chestnut Hill twin theaters with my grandmother in 1977.

Did it last? Not entirely. There wasn’t a screen crawl (something that had gotten to be painfully de rigueur for Star Wars films), the music was noticably different, and I was thrown a bit off by the quick changes from one planet to another as the various pieces were laid out chaotically like a myopic view of a skein of multicolored yarn. I was tempted to despair.

Luckily, this was short-lived. As the film progressed, some ancillary characters and cities were culled revealing how the many parts came together into a meaningful story arc. And despite the pace picking up, some character development brought you into the protagonist’s lives enough to care about them.

The droid we learn to love this time is K-2SO, a reprogrammed imperial unit with a drollness that reminded me (but only slightly) of the original C3PO  – as opposed to the buffoon he / its become. K2 was the show stealer whose personality was possibly the most fleshed out of all the characters onscreen.

tarkinThere were also familiar faces. Odd familiar faces. Grand Moff Tarkin, for instance, who looked as if Peter Cushing might have spent time with Joan Rivers’ plastic surgeon who did one hell of a job making him not only young again, but much less dead. On the one hand, the CGI that made this possible was pretty amazing. On the other, we were still caught in the upward slope of the uncanny valley.

The same can be said for Leia, who we (thankfully) only see for a very short time, but in such a well lit close up that they are daring you to look – and you do.

Red and Gold Leaders are also brought back for a space fight over an imperial base. But rather than recreate them on top of other actors, they were simply cut into their  scenes – rather effectively, I have to admit.

Lastly, Cornelius Evazan and Ponda Baba (who both have way too much backstory on Wookipedia), the toughs from the cantina on Tatooine, get a quick cameo appearance in a  street shot. These guys just can’t stand not being in a fight, but manage to rein themselves in a little quicker this time.

Overall, I think I may like this even more than I liked The Force Awakens, which was the film that gave us all a new hope after Lucas was bought out. The Force Awakens was a lot of fun and took the theater’s breath away when the Millenium Falcon revealed herself. Rogue One, on the other hand, took a small piece from the original Star Wars and delivered a beautifully tragic exegesis. Clear, well-defined, and raw.

I’m looking forward to another viewing soon. Thumbs up.

 

 

 
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Posted by on December 16, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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The Force Awakens … Tomorrow

This is undoubtedly the best time for a Star Wars fan: one day away from the long-awaited premier of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

A quick open letter to Mr. Abrams:

Our hopes and best wishes are pinned of you, J.J. Abrams.

Screen Shot 2015-12-16 at 8.27.28 AM.png

You’re not giving us the finger, are you? – on no, that’s just your Johnny Mathis / Mark Greene Pose

The trailers are awesome and still give me chills when the Falcon sails into view spiraling through the sky in combat with Tie Fighters. The story hasn’t been told yet, though we have been teased well enough to know where it’s going. BB-8 doesn’t spout out vaguely(?) racist jibber-jabber.

I heard you on 60 minutes spelling out your strategy of limited CGI and real explosions to re-capture the magic of the original trilogy. Your wife seems to like the film and sounds convincingly like she’s not just towing the line for her hubby.

Bring it home J.J.

-Your fans

Seriously, this is the best of times. There’s no greater joy than that of expectation for something grand. Christmas Eve is always better than Christmas itself.

My family has tickets for the 7:30 showing tomorrow night – we’re not the first showing in the area, but we’ll be safely ensconced in the theater long before the premier’s audience is let out.

Screen Shot 2015-12-16 at 8.23.53 AM.pngI’ve been debating about when to get tickets for a second showing and decided to wait to see if my wife is willing to come along for a repeat within the same weekend (I think there are still tickets available).

Perhaps there are still 1am tickets for Friday morning?

So, here’s to the ghosts of Star Wars past (Alec Guinness and Peter Cushing?), Star Wars Present(Hamil, Ford, and Fisher?), and Star Wars Yet-to-Come(Ridley and Boyega?). I wish all of you the best. See you tomorrow night.

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on December 16, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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“This blog is our last hope ”

“No, there is another.”

Exam I for Microbiology nears. Where will the extra credit questions come from? Will they all be found here? Perhaps. But there is A New Hope.

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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The Hobbit: An (Un)expected Disappointment

images-2A prequel trilogy seems to be a director’s opportunity to push CGI beyond its usefulness and try with all
their vast wealth to demonstrate that more is better- in every case, all the time. Regardless, the films make money providing the only feedback that matters to Hollywood. So we, the audience, ensure our future dissatisfaction.
I wanted to like The Hobbit- I really, really wanted to like The Hobbit. Despite the problems one might expect after hearing that this book was to be divided into three films, I still wanted to like it. And there were parts that I did enjoy tremendously. But, assuming I had the ability to make the film myself, I wouldn’t be expecting a good performance review or raise based on this effort.
Now (spoiler alert), I want to talk about what did and didn’t work specifically.
Beginning with the good…
I though that the film was paced very well from the start giving ample time for character development and slow immersion into the world of middle earth. Of course,the characters that were best introduced were Bilbo and Gandalf, both of whom we already knew from The Lord of the Rings.
Getting to know the dwarves was mixed, but overall quite good. The story paralleled the book well taking ample time to convince Bilbo to come along on the adventure of a lifetime, but it’s difficult to get to know thirteen dwarves no matter how long we take. I’m giving Jackson a pass here and will say that he did a very good job or balancing the dwarves’ gravity and lightheartedness and included the song of the dwarves to set the mood.
Although my wife and I have different opinions about it, I was happy with the backstory of the orcs to provide an antagonist to root against, fear and revile. (However, I would have gone with goblins to keep consistent with the book and get to see a new race of people)
Lastly, the scene with Gollum was easily as good as any he starred in previously and saved the movie in no small  manner. Gollum represents CGI at its finest, a triumph of technology.
Now the bad…
My wife argued that there was too much effort made to stretch things out to make a trilogy out of what should be one long movie. I didn’t find this to be a major fault, but I certainly saw her point.
My problems started with the rock/ mountain giants. I know they were in the book, but I think they were an easy thing to skip and a hard thing to do well. Jackson took the hard road and got a rather pointless CGI heavy scene that didn’t add anything to the film.
This was followed by our introduction to the goblins… I’m sorry, orcs. In my mind, the caverns of the goblins were cold and dark and populated by a rather simpleminded, but malevolent race. Never did I imagine wide open spaces laced with miles of timber (where did this all come from?) it was consistent with the LOTRs orcs’ cave, but does it give us anything? Perhaps just lots of room for a big, silly chance scene that reminded me of another big budget loser, The Temple of Doom. What filmmaker wouldn’t want their work to be compared to that?
Again, I’m just giving my two bits, but the last fight scene in the trees is a great opportunity to cut a few minutes as well. Less is more, right? Then, as if an echo of the Fellowship of the Ring, I would fade to credits with the eagles in the air.
I get it though, we need the tree fight to develop the relationship between Bilbo and Thorin… And then we have a resolution on the high rock promontory, but forget it – that’s not character development I needed. Bilbo is only just supposed to be showing his worth here, not becoming bestees with the dwarf.
Overall, I think it was about a 6 out of 10. I just wonder if Peter Jackson has gotten so big and respectable that no one says, “hell no, that sucks!” to him anymore. CGI, chase scenes and cultivated emotion aren’t what’s needed to make this a good film. I agree, if there’s no giant eagles in the world, you would have to use Special effects to show someone getting off of one. Or you could cut away and trust the viewers imagination.
I appreciate that you’ve grown up since Dead Alive, Peter (which was awesome, by the way). You don’t have to try very hard to make Tolkien a good story just don’t get in the way and you’ll have a winner.

 
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Posted by on December 23, 2012 in Movies, Personal Life

 

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Forcing it

In twenty years we may look back and wish that Star Wars had gone the way Mr. Kuperberg envisioned.

It can always get worse.

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/shouts/2012/11/forcing-it.html

 
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Posted by on November 9, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Is there new hope for ‘A New Hope’?

ImageDisney bought the rights to the Star Wars franchise from Lucasarts today for $4B. For old Star Wars fans like me, this poses two immediate questions:

#1 Is Disney going to make rubbish movies and destroy the series?

and

#2 Does this mean that finally someone is in a position to remaster and release the ORIGINAL version of Star Wars, A New Hope?

 

The answers:

#1  Too Late. George already did that with 3 1/2 crummy episodes

#2 Who knows. I can only keep my fingers crossed – a good friend of mine consulted his magic 8 ball though and he said the outlook was grim.

 

 

 
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Posted by on October 30, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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