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star-wars-rogue-one[Warning: Spoilers]

[Warning: This review goes all over the place…]

[Note:Feel free to read my previous post (and ALL the comments) concerning my expectations on Rogue One here.]

Well, I finally saw Star Wars – Rogue One. My buddy Chris was so incensed that I’m not the biggest fan of the franchise, he insisted on buying my ticket when it came to my home town theater. Uncharacteristically… he was late so I’m not sure if he paid for my ticket or not. The ticket-lady said she would hit him up for it. (He did buy me a Rogue One T-Shirt though). Chris also got ill (cold or flu) right after that night. Thank goodness I didn’t catch it or I would have had to dock the movie a point. 🙂

But I digress…

OK… Rogue One is the best Star Wars film since Empire Strikes Back. 🙂 But that’s not a fair statement given my opinion of all the movies since Empire Strikes Back. Rogue One could have been “meh” and still have been the best movie since ESB.

So let me further say that Rogue One was a pleasant surprise. It was actually a good movie. A seven… maybe seven and a half… I’ll have to digest it a bit more. But by my standards, seven is pretty good. (See my rating system here) I don’t see more than one or sometimes two movies of that caliber a year. But then I’m pretty picky with the movies I go see. If I go to a movie theater more than six times a year, I’d be surprised. Usually I just wait to see it at home and usually, that’s the right decision given the quality of movies over the last decade.

But I digress…

Overall:
Rogue One was a good movie. The character development was pretty good if not a bit rushed because of the number of characters they had to get through. I thought the story flowed pretty well and I liked the premise. Bringing back a lot of characters (big and small) worked because the big ones were crucial to the plot and the not so big ones were used only for nostalgia, and oh-that-was-neat purposes.

[Real Spoiler Here] Chris suspected (correctly) that I would really like the movie based on one major aspect of the plot. Everybody dies… It seems to be no coincidence that my favorite movies are the likes of “Blade Runner” and “Braveheart”; which have bittersweet endings. It’s easy to have a ship swoop in and save the heroes at the last second (which Rogue One could have done). It also adds to the possibility of sequels… but I admire a production that can say… the story is over for these characters.

Side Track – Blade Runner
In a side note, my one and only complaint concerning “Blade Runner” (my favorite movie) is the closing narration of Deckard (main character) concerning Rachael (love interest). It was a slight cop-out to the tendency to soften the blow of the ending.

The main motivation of the bad guys is to live longer (beyond genetically programed termination dates). It is the whole reason they come to Earth, to see their creator (Dr Tyrell) and demand more life. When the main bad guy (Roy) meets his creator he is informed there is nothing to be done. It is scientifically not possible… BUT… we’re informed it was done… for the love interest (Rachael) at the end of the movie for the sake of a softer ending…

Deckard: [narrating] Gaff had been there, and let her live. Four years, he figured. He was wrong. Tyrell had told me Rachael was special. No termination date. I didn’t know how long we had together… Who does?

Here is how the movie should have ended.

Deckard: [narrating] Gaff had been there, and let her live. Four years, he figured. He was wrong. Tyrell had told me Rachael was special. No termination date. I didn’t know how long we had together… Who does?

But I digress…

Rogue One, goes to prove that the franchise could in fact be saved, if only Disney can get away from the idiocy ingrained into the over-all story by Lucas (cough Midichlorians). This would involve concentrating on good writing at the expense of interjecting social commentary/guidance and other horrible story line mistakes. Rogue One had only a smidgen of that stuff, and overall proves it’s possible. Can Disney continue along this path? I doubt it.

Complaints:
Which bring me to the one complaint that I have… which really has little to do with the story itself. I saw an interview with the two actors of the main characters and the whole thing was about “diversity”; meaning Disney checked off a whole lot of boxes concerning various races, genders, and chosen/perceived genders.

Whooops… I didn’t see any trans characters (unless I’m totally blind). I would (sarcastically) recommend protests and riots over that fact, but some idiots might actually follow through with that. So let’s give them another movie or two to correct this oversight… and let’s not forget about polygamist and robo-sexuals.

I bring this up only because it was no accident that these two actors droned on and on about the diversity of the film (above and beyond and superior to previous Star Wars films – their sentiments, not mine). This was the image and message Disney wanted to push and I guarantee you the actors were coached in exactly how to do this.

They Just Can’t Help Themselves:
So, in the spirit of the diversity check list, Disney (being a leftist company) could not help but introduce two gay characters. (Star Trek did the same with the character Sulu recently.) They (Hollywood) can’t help but ram that crap down our throats as a service to society. But I digress… Disney, was at least as subtle about it as they could be and I appreciate that. I assume the mugging (as in massive passionate kissing) scene is on the cutting room floor, or perhaps it never existed. Either way… I’m grateful. I guess, I even question if I would have caught it (the two gay characters), if I were not expecting it… (I think I would have… but at least that question does enter my mind.)

Where Rogue One Really Succeeds – Subtlety:
One major flaw of the franchise is that everything/everybody is related, either genetically or by coincidence. It’s taking the “I am your father” thing and going nuts with it. Vader is Luke’s father and Lea is the daughter/sister. You’ve now reached the limit of plausible associations… any sane director/producer would go no further. (I’m talking to you, Lucas.)

    A Couple of Examples of Franchise Failures:

  1. C3PO was the droid of young Anakin Skywalker. Why? It adds nothing to the story. I’s too much of a coincidence… and it’s stupid.
  2. It turns out that Chewbaca fought with Yoda… and became friends with Luke… who later trained under Yoda… again, stupid… Knock yourself out, throw some wookies in there (the movie)… just not Chewbacca (or even related to Chewbacca)
  3. And what do you want to bet Rey (from The Force Awakens) isn’t just some random girl who happens to be gifted with the force… What do you want to bet she’s related (literally) to the Skywalker line.

To the point of Rogue One… they did this too, BUT on much more subtler scale and in a non-plot-exploding manner.

    A Couple of Examples of Rogue One Successes:

  1. Jyn literally bumps into the two ruffians later encounter by Luke and Obi Wan in the bar scene. Nostalgic, neat… and the plot moves on three seconds later.
  2. We see R2D2 and C3PO on a rebel base (and… that’s it). It’s even logical that they would be there.
  3. The Red and Gold leader pilots lead the attack on the planet Scarif, later attack the Death Star… again, nostalgic, neat, but more importantly logical that they would be there.

Of course there were also main characters brought back (via CGI), but again… it was logical and key to the plot… versus what we’ve seen in past films.

On the subject of returning characters, it is amazing how they brought them back long after the actors have died or aged. This will open up whole new possibilities of longevity for characters and legal questions when companies buy not just the actor’s services, but their likeness in perpetuity.

But I digress…

In conclusion, Rogue One was a refreshing departure from the train wreck of the prequels and even better than the not-that-bad awakening. Do I still need convincing? Am I still the figurative (maybe literal) crazy old man yellin’ from his porch? Oh yeah…

But if I dig deep down, way past the decades of disappointment… What has Rogue One given me (and many others). Exactly what Princess Lea exclaimed in the last line of the movie… “Hope”. 🙂

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movies-popcorn-and-film
I’m about to follow up (on an earlier post) with a review of the movie, Star Wars – Rogue One. I have in the past mentioned that I grade movies on a 10 point scale… and been given grief that I never give a movie a 10. To help clarify my review of Rogue One… I’m preliminarily posting a guide to TexasLynn’s movie rating scale.

  1. The Best Movie Ever – The Holy Grail of Movies – I’ll never watch another movie other than this one ever again. (Haven’t seen it yet.)
  2. This was an excellent movie – One of my favorites of all time. I will watch it again and again. (Blade Runner, Braveheart)
  3. This was a really good movie – Often a surprise, and one I look forward to seeing again. (Monty Python’s – The Holy Grail, Looper, Groundhog Day, Mad Max – Fury Road)
  4. This was a good movie – But doesn’t quite get over that hump. I may eventually see it again, probably. (Ant-man, Prometheus)
  5. This was a “meh” movie – It was not a complete waste of my time to see it, but I probably won’t watch it again. (Star Wars: Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, Suicide Squad, Ex Machina, Batman vs Superman) A lot of movies fall in the 5-6 range.
  6. This is a sub-par movie – I would just as soon have that two hours of my life back. (Star Wars: Episode III, Jurassic World, most sequels)
  7. This is a bad movie – I’m mad at somebody, the producer for making it, the theater for showing it… (Star Wars Episodes I & II, Independence Day)
  8. This is a really bad movie – I’m not only mad, I want my money back (This is the End) (I’m pretty good a avoiding here and below)
  9. This is a really, really bad movie – I’m mad, I want my money back, and I want to be reimbursed for my time. (The Never Ending Story, Highlander II)
  10. This movie is not only bad, it is a stain on and harm to society. The producers/directors/actors should be punished; preferably by being prohibited from every working in the film industry again. (Most stuff produced by Michael Moore and Al Gore)

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American Movie - SniperSo I got a chance to see American Sniper. And I’ll try to get my thoughts about it down in this posting. Nothing in this original post contains any spoilers. If anything is posted in the comments with spoilers I ask that we add a [Spoiler Alert] warning.

Quality of the Movie:
Mentally for years I’ve ranked movies on a scale of 1-10. For me the scale is probably weighted in the negative end of the scale. Ninety percent of movies ever produced fall in the range of five or less. Five is an average “meh” movie. It was OK but I’ll never see it again. Ten is a phenomenal masterpiece that I have seen many times. There are very few tens (Blade Runner, Brave Heart, 12 Monkeys). One is a movie so boring or stupid or insulting that all involved in it’s production should be flogged (The Neverending Story, Highlander II, The War of the Roses). Hopefully with this explanation you can judge my ranking of American Sniper

The Movie:
American Sniper was a seven… so not bad. It keeps your interest, doesn’t really drag anywhere and it’s easy to become emotionally invested in the characters (especially Chris Kyle). Chris is also not portrayed as one dimensional. Many viewers will see Chris as a hero (some not), but we are exposed to some of his weaknesses and faults as well. Dealing with the war and his job in it; being a brother, husband, and father; and carving out a life of service once he leaves the military. He’s not perfect, and like the rest of us succeeds sometimes and falls short others.

I’m no movie critic nor an expert in theater so my review of the movie is simple as a lay person. The performance by Bradley Cooper, who plays Chris Kyle, is very good and from what I understand he did a good job of capturing the man he portrayed. I can only judge the direction by the fact that I was never in a position of wondering what was going on or wishing that things would move forward or change pace.

I will say that the scenes with the fake baby were noticeable, but I question if they would have been so noticeable had I not been looking for them based on the criticism. It didn’t take away from the movie that much for me. I understand that directors have severely handicapped (due to laws) when it comes to shooting scenes witch children (and especially babies). The complaints were nitpicky and petty (but that could be the politics talking).

I particularly like the ending of the movie [still not a spoiler here unless you are completely uninformed about Chris Kyle] in that it did not go into the details of Chris’s murder. The scenes of tribute from his memorial service put a nice punctuation on the story of his service.

The Story:
It’s hard for me to know how accurate the actual story behind the movie is. What happened, what didn’t, and to what degree were aspects toned down or turned up? For example, I saw Unbroken and then read that the producers greatly toned down the emaciation suffered by the main character (and his friend) after forty days at sea in a raft. They also toned down the abuse suffered at the Japanese prisoner of war camps. They thought the truth would distract from the story they wanted to tell concerning the perseverance.

Assuming the basic premise and scenes in American Sniper realistically depicted what happened in Iraq, I can only conclude that 1) War is hell, 2) There is (and always will be) great evil in the world and 3) that evil will flourish so long as good men do nothing (or allow nothing to be done).

It is terrible that such hatred and evil exists, and it is shame good men must address it; but that is the nature of man. The only greater shame would be… doing nothing.

The Politics (from the Left):
A vast majority of the leftist vitriol over the movie has nothing to do with the movie, it’s merits, or it’s faults and everything to do with the lefts hatred of our role in Iraq, the military, and what they perceive America’s role is in the 21’st century. Their hatred is so consuming that everything having anything to do with American Patriotism (especially in relation to Bush, or Iraq) must be demeaned and torn down. Thus the attacks personal attacks on Chris Kyle (and that is what they were).

The left has basically shown that they can dish it out (and boy can they dish it) but they can’t take it. Every now and then a movie (or TV series) is produced that doesn’t subscribe to their social dogma and they go into hysterics and personal attack mode. Why can be explained by nature of a monopoly; which the left holds on Hollywood. Monopolies by definition can’t stand 1) Competition and (even worse) 2) Successful competition.(1)

American Sniper turned out to be one of those movies. We conservatives have to deal with most movies having leftist slants, digs, or outright propaganda; but we (for the most part) take it stoically (in comparison).

(1)Hollywood monopoly explanation from someone on the O’Reilly Factor (sorry I don’t remember who).

Poltical Cartoon - Michael Moore - American Sniper

The Politics (from the Right):
We on the right have a patriotic reverence for America, her role as a force for good in the world, and her military that makes that role possible. That reverence is instinctively extended to men like Chris Kyle. That reverence may also cause us to instinctively extend a benefit of the doubt to some dubious behavior. (Example: Abu Ghraib was a bad thing and people needed to be held accountable. Does it even come close to the vile actions of those we are fighting? No. Meanwhile the left would assign moral equivalence at best.) This bring up the quest of “Are we conservatives as blinded by our reverence as the left is by their hatred”? I don’t think so (not even close)… but I’m coming from a certain perspective.

The Bottom Line:
American Sniper just surpassed Hunger Games for the top grossing film with a 2014 release date. That’s a good thing. Like most things, a free marketplace is a good test for a good product.

There are two reasons that happened. 1) American Sniper is really a pretty good film telling an intriguing story. 2) Word got out that American Sniper is something completely missing in the products coming out of Hollywood… a film that support traditional American ideals.

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[I don’t plan on makeing a habit of this. Movies today are mostly drivel and unworthy of my attention or blog space. Even the good ones are at best Meh… But this movie was exceptionally good; so I thought I’d share my thoughts on it.]

Spoiler Alert: [The following post discusses the movie Looper and mentions a few high level aspects of the plot… read with caution. I’ve tried to write a review suitable for someone who has not seen the movie and not ruin it for them. Still, I do discuss certain high level aspects of the plot. I’ll warn you of the two paragraphs that I do this in.]

Movie - Looper (small)

Ok, so I watched the movie Looper last night. It’s rare that I’m impressed with a movie; especially lately and especially enough to mention it or review it. But this movie was refreshingly good.

Basic Plot (explained early in the movie… so no real spoiler here): It’s the year 2044 and time travel hasn’t been invented yet. But it will be and it will be illegal; thus used exclusively by organized crime. Bodies are impossible to dispose of in the future, so when the mob wants to get rid of someone, they send them 30 years into the past where a hired hit man is waiting to kill them and dispose of their body. The hit men are called loopers in that they agree to do the dirty work with the understanding that someday, 30 years after “retirement” the mob will find them, and send them back to be killed by their younger selves. Their older selves include a payoff that the young looper can retire on and begin the final 30 years of their lives…

Man, Looper was a good movie. In the time travel genre; it’s on the level of 12 Monkey’s which also happened to star Bruce Willis. A main plot difference being that in this film; the past can be changed to affect the future. Bruce Willis (Old Joe) does a great job explaining how his memory is foggy until Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Young Joe) does something and the memory of it solidifies.

[Spoiler Paragraph]: I really like Old Joe’s character and dilemma. He comes from the future slated for death but survives by his wits. Now he has to deal with his younger self whom he really doesn’t like. (He’s changed.) And now he finds himself in a position to kill the future Adolf Hitler type sociopath (who runs the whole mob). The twist… he has narrowed it down to one of three children. And Old Joe isn’t just a high minded assassin saving the future… killing this kid will directly save the one woman he has ever loved.

[Spoiler Paragraph]: Of course the Young Joe has his own problems. The mob doesn’t look too favorably on loopers who don’t “close the loop” and terminate their contracts. Young Joe has firsthand knowledge of the consequences and it’s not pretty. He genuinely wants to kill his older self so he can begin to live his 30 years of luxury. At the same time Young Joe has that spark of compassion that has come to fruition in his older self; just like Old Joe still has that killer instinct from his former life.

I have to admit you can extrapolate one or two minor plot points in the movie. And if you decide to dwell on the paradox issues; knock yourself out. They are numerous and rampant. But when it comes to the twists (and there are a lot of them), they’re good, and you’ll never see them coming.

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Just to show you how out of touch I am…

Atlas Shrugged Part 1 will hit theaters on April 15th (appropriate)! I just found this out recently. I have been waiting for this movie for over 10 years! The only other movie I’ve waited on with such anticipation was the Star Wars Prequel, The Phantom Menace… and what a piece of crap that was. I can only hope this Atlas Shrugged doesn’t let me down.

Atlas Shrugged was written in 1957 by Ayn Rand and explores a dystopian United States where leading innovators, ranging from industrialists to artists, refuse to be exploited by society. The protagonist, Dagny Taggart, sees society collapse around her as the government increasingly asserts control over all industry (including Taggart Transcontinental, the once mighty transcontinental railroad for which she serves as the operating executive), while society’s most productive citizens, led by the mysterious John Galt, progressively disappear. Galt describes the strike as “stopping the motor of the world” by withdrawing the “minds” that drive society’s growth and productivity. In their efforts, these “men of the mind” hope to demonstrate that a world in which the individual is not free to create is doomed, that civilization cannot exist where men are slave to society and government, and that the destruction of the profit motive leads to the collapse of society. — Wikipedia

I’ve referenced this book before in my blog. I wrote a blog on the book some time ago here: If you saw Atlas… what would you tell him to do? And I compared Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of General Electric to villain James Taggart from the book here: A Real World James Taggart or That’s the Way You Do It

    My concerns about the movie:

  • Length… The book is huge, the same size as Les MisĂ©rables by victor Hugo, almost as big as the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. So you can imagine the content. There is NO WAY you could do the book justice in a two or three hour movie. The fact that this is Part 1 of a trilogy gives me hope.
  • Hollywood Liberalism… Let’s face it; the elites in Hollywood despise anything conservative, though movies with conservative themes often do very well at the box office. Add that to the fact that those morons have no concept of the principles behind the book. The main actors seem to be newcomers (so much for their careers) and the production seems to be financed outside the insider circles.
  • True to the author… The book was great so the movie will be great only so much as it is able to stay true to the author’s vision. I understand that some cuts have to be made, but with a trilogy, those cuts and revisions should be minimal.

The time has come, the die is cast… Atlas Shrugged has arrived. I hope the movie captures the message of the book. I hope a lot of people see it. AND I hope they get it; because our reality moves closer and closer to this fiction every day.

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