Rogue One

Spoilers ahead!

As a Christmas present to myself, I decided to take the kids to see Rogue One this afternoon.  A friend posted a review a few days ago on Facebook and I’ve purposely been avoiding it.  I didn’t want any outside opinions influencing me before I saw it for myself.  While I won’t go as far to say that Rogue One was as good as Empire like he suggests, it was a good movie.  You can read his review here.  I’d love to see it again soon, but this is my first impression and random thoughts.

Everyone knew the Titanic was going to sink, but we all went and saw the movie anyway.  We all know where Rogue One is leading, and it was a fun ride along the way.  Rogue One doesn’t have the weight of the dark side vs light side to contend with.  It is largely a spy/war film based in the Star Wars universe.  I never imagined it would take us right up to the opening scene of A New Hope, but let’s back up.

The film opens with the only character development of the entire movie with a young Jyn Erso. The movie makes a point to show Jyn’s mother giving her a necklace with a crystal at the end of it.  It is likely a kyber crystal, which are used in light sabers and also what Jyn’s father used to power the Death Star.  In what seemed like foreshadowing was really nothing.  The necklace played no role in the rest of the movie unless I missed something.  The beginning of the movie felt rushed jumping from plant to planet, at least until the plot really starts moving.  Jyn, a reluctant rebel, is grown and goes on a mission to steal the plans to the Death Star, which her father helped design.  That’s really all there is to it.  Joined by a few quickly introduced characters and a snarky droid, the band of rebels is complete.

For any Star Wars fan there were plenty of subtle nods to the other movies like the cup of blue juice, bumping into the guys that pick a fight with Luke in the Cantina scene (although I’m not sure how they got off Jedha before it was blown up), the Alliance base on Yavin 4, Jimmy Smits returns as Bail Organa to make reference to his Jedi friend from the Clone Wars, along with plenty of other easter eggs.  It was fun seeing Ben Mendelsohn as Director Krennic.  It took me a minute to realize why I recognized him, but I think it was his voice that connected the dots for me.  Mendelsohn is great as Danny Rayburn in the Netflix series, Bloodline.  I highly recommend it!  But anyway.  Is Darth Vader still living on that same lava planet that Obi-wan sliced him up on?  I didn’t mind the CGI Tarkin as much as I didn’t like seeing Leia.  We all know she’s the one wearing the white cloak.  They could have just as easily not shown her CGI face.  I could have also done without the R2 and C3PO cameos, but maybe I’m just nitpicking at this point.

Director Gareth Edwards did a fantastic job of giving Rogue One the same gritty feeling as the original trilogy and the battle scenes were brilliant.  Seeing Star Wars on the big screen makes me giddy.  I grew up watching the original movies on VHS and remember watching the 20th anniversary special edition movies in the theater.  Rogue One makes me want to go back and watch the original trilogy again!

 

Live reuniting

It’s been rumored that Ed Kowalczyk is reuniting with his old band mates, Live.  There is no doubt Throwing Copper was a definitive album of the 90’s, spawning hit after hit.   I was a fan and stuck with the band through Secret Samadhi , The Distance to Here, V, and then I only got into the song “Heaven” from Birds of Pray.  You’d think after that long I’d be excited about the idea of a reunion, but I’m really not.  It’s one thing to be nostalgic, but it has been 13 years since I cared about a new song of theirs and over 20 years since the height of their popularity in the mid 90’s.

Looking back at what’s happened since, it’s surprising that they’re getting back together.  In 2009 they planned to take a two year hiatus that turned into a tumultuous break-up.  The band sued Kowalczyk over publishing rights and trademark infringement, which he counter-sued.  I wasn’t aware of this, but the remaining Live members recruited Kevin Martin and Sean Hennesy of Candlebox to form a new band, The Gracious Few, and released a self-titled album.  I’ll have to go check that out.  By 2011 though, the guys from Live decided to find a new lead singer and move on without Kowalczyk, releasing an album, The Turn.

It bothers me when bands tour without the original lead singer.  Let’s be honest; if the bass player gets replaced who really notices?  We recognize bands by the sound of the singer’s voice.  There isn’t always going to be an Arnel Pineda to replace a voice like Steve Perry’s.  So when a band tours under the same name but a different lead singer, they may as well be a really good cover band.

I’d probably be more excited about a reunited Live if they went on the road with another good band from the same era.  For some reason Third Eye Blind comes to mind.  The two bands are similar in the success they had with numerous hits from one album.  Candlebox would like make a lot of sense, too, given the history of the Gracious Few.  I never saw Live perform live back in the day, and I likely wouldn’t go out of my way to see them now. 

 

 

The One Moment

OK Go isn’t a band I seek out normally.  At least not for their music.  What I’ve heard from them, I like, but I can’t say that I’m ever just in the mood to hear OK Go.  When it comes to music videos, though, they are incredible.  They are the ones that did the video on treadmills, filmed a Rube Goldberg Machine in a single shot for “This Too Shall Pass” and filmed in zero gravity for “Upside Down & Inside Out.”  The latest video is for the song “The One Moment” and takes place over 4.2 seconds.  The rapid fire explosions are slowed down to the tune of the song and it is stunning.

SNL is irrelevant 

I haven’t watched last night’s episode of SNL yet, but I already heard about Trump’s tweet about it. President-elect Trump is whining that SNL is making fun of him.  I tried to come up with a snarky tweet of my own but couldn’t fit my frustration into 140 characters or less.

Supporters are defending him by saying how irrelevant and unfunny SNL is. That line of defense only proves how childish he is acting. If SNL is irrelevant, then why does Trump care what they have to say about him?  Saturday Night Live has spent decades poking fun at presidents and politicians. It has been hilarious at times, and has fallen short plenty of other times.

You know what really isn’t funny? How easily Trump is provoked.  Do you think other countries haven’t noticed how thin skinned he is?  How is he supposed to lead, much less protect us, when he can’t even take a joke?  Of all the issues facing this country and he’s worried how he is being portrayed on a sketch comedy show.  It’s time for his staff to take away his tweeting privileges again.

Post election

I’ve tried to avoid social media in the days following the election.  I needed a break from the gloating and whining.  A Washington Post-ABC News poll showed that the majority of Americans (62%) believe Trump is unfit and doesn’t have the temperament to be President, which means there had to be some other compelling reason to vote Republican.  In my inconsequential opinion, the Supreme Court implications were underestimated.  People voted to secure conservative nominations to the Supreme Court more than they voted because they liked Trump.  Then again, polls haven’t been the most reliable source of information this election cycle.

While news outlets figure out how they got it wrong, anti-Trump protests have erupted.  I respect their right to protest although I don’t quite understand what they hope to accomplish.  Let’s be honest, there was going to be protests no matter who won.   It goes to show just how divided we are as a country.  We can debate the benefits and drawbacks of the electoral college like we seem to do every 4 to 8 years, but Trump will be our next President.  I’m not moving to Canada or anywhere else.  And of all places, why does everyone say they are going to Canada?  Are they afraid they’ll be put to work building the wall if they move to Mexico?  Nothing against our friendly neighbors to the north, but there are plenty of tropical locations that I would rather relocate to in protest.

During my short sabbatical, I’ve been binging on the HBO series, The Newsroom.  I’ve never watched it and a show about reporting news with integrity and ethics seemed like a nice departure from reality.  Plus, how can you not like the quick-witted dialogue of Aaron Sorkin?  It’s a cross between Broadcast News and Sports Night;  not that you need a review of a 4 year old show.

None of us knows what’s to come in the next 4 years.  However I think we can all agree that these Joe Biden plotting against Trump memes are winning the internet.