Rogue One is a one-hit wonder

24-Dec-16 9:30 AM by
Filed under Potpourri, Star Wars; 2 comments.

This holiday season marks several milestones, including the first standalone Star Wars movie. Rogue One debuted this month and is set immediately before the events of 1977's Episode IV: A New Hope, answering several of the questions raised by that movie. In many ways, Rogue One defies what we've come to expect from a Star Wars movie: there is no opening scroll, no Jedi, and no hope — this is a dark movie, more akin to a war film, and is inappropriate for children. That's all in stark contrast to the lighter fare of the original trilogy, which resulted in Kenner toys being popular Christmas gifts; I would be astonished and mildly horrified if any of Rogue One's cast were found under the tree this year.

For all those differences, I liked Rogue One. It belongs in the Star Wars universe and shows a different side of it, both establishing and emphasizing the enormity of the Empire and the desperation and necessity of the Rebel Alliance. There are plenty of hooks and tie-ins to A New Hope that longtime fans will appreciate — though I can't imagine that anyone not well-versed in Star Wars lore will even understand this "standalone" film.

To that end, I was surprised and disappointed that Rogue One had no apparent bearing on The Force Awakens. Last year's Episode VII raised many questions, and it seemed reasonable that the next Star Wars film to be released would answer some of those questions. After all, this franchise is now being developed by the studio responsible for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which practically requires you see three movies a year; I expected Disney to give us every reason to see every Star Wars film as well. But ultimately, the characters of Rogue One, while well-written and acted, are forgettable — I walked out of the theater not remembering almost anyone's names.

The story is co-written by John Knoll, Photoshop co-creator and ILM special effects maven. I interviewed Knoll nine years ago about the impact TRON had on the evolution and acceptance of computer-generated special effects. Knoll was already an industry luminary a decade ago, but I had no idea he'd go on to earn a writing credit for such a blockbuster film.

While Rogue One expands the Star Wars universe, it doesn't move it forward: the franchise was fine without it, and it's not required viewing for continued enjoyment of the new trilogy. I saw The Force Awakens twice in theaters and then bought the Blu Ray; by comparison, while I much enjoyed Rogue One and recommend it without hesitation to Star Wars fans, I doubt I'll ever see it again.

There are many good holiday movies in theaters this season, of which Rogue One is but one. But even Star Wars can get into the Christmas spirit, as seen by our favorite Wookie singing one of his favorite carols:

That's our obligatory Christmas Eve video — but there's still one more occasion to mark: this month is Showbits' tenth anniversary. It was ten years ago, on December 15, 2006, that the site launched, reviving a message board I'd previously operated on the Syndicomm Online commercial service. It was a member of that board, Peter Watson, who encouraged me to reimagine the bulletin board as a Web 2.0 blog. I chose the WordPress CMS with which to do so — a decision that has profoundly impacted my professional development and career.

While I may no longer blog often on Showbits, WordPress remains a tool I use daily to promote causes I'm passionate about. My thanks to Peter, who remains my friend to this day, for setting me down this path.

Merry Christmas, Hanukkah, and holiday season to all!

A New Sith; or, Revenge of the Hope

09-Jul-09 10:01 PM by
Filed under Star Wars; 2 comments.

Star Wars is a universe divided: an excellent trilogy followed by three awful prequels. Yet this division is something that unites the fans, as rarely will you find a Jedi wannabe who favors Jar-Jar Binks over Master Yoda. I'm not of a very different mind on this matter, though I have previously argued that even the prequel trilogy has its redeeming moments. If I have to choose sides, I just can't help but root for the underdog.

What is less often considered is the six series as a united whole, and the impact the prequels have on the original trilogy. Have you ever watched all six movies not in release order, but in chronological order? If so, did you notice some things that didn't make sense before suddenly take on a whole new meaning?

One creative author has organized all those threads into a logical supposition. In Keith Martin's reconsideration of Star Wars IV in the light of I-III, two characters that have always been fan favorites are cast in unexpectedly prominent yet subtle roles. Think the heroes of this film were Luke Skywalker and Han Solo? Think again. As unlikely as this casting is to be canon, it's an imaginative — and seemingly plausible — interpretation that gives George Lucas' galaxy more depth than even he intended. If you have time to read this 2,299-word dissertation, you won't be disappointed.

One point in the above essay that I had to question: was the Millennium Falcon anywhere in the prequel trilogy? I don't remember. I know it defended Earth from the Borg, roughly a century after R2-D2 went up against the Romulans. So it's entirely possible these characters would show up unexpectedly in their own franchise.

(Hat tip to Rotten Tomatoes)

Star Wars Sounds Around the House

11-Feb-09 11:47 AM by
Filed under Star Wars; 5 comments.

I was recently editing an article about how to convert one format of digitized sound effect (rSound) to another (WAV). It's a pretty geeky topic, but one I think will appeal to the right audience.

Despite that esoteric pastime, even I have to say that some people have way too much time on their hands. Translating sound effects via digital means, I can understand — but reproducing Star Wars theme music "on the metal"?

At least this second example was mere happenstance and involved no real work… unless you count the unlikelihood of a Wookie amicably squeezing himself into a cabinet.


(Hat tips to Blake Patterson and TheForce.net)