Category Archives: Star Wars

My Thoughts on: Solo: A Star Wars Story (with spoilers!) (2018)

*warning, spoilers abound, turn back if you don’t want to know!

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Considering I went in with absolutely zero expectations, Solo: A Star Wars Story was much better than I thought it would be. As expected from the previews, the film explains how Han Solo first met Chewbacca, Lando Calrissian and how he came into possession of the Millennium Falcon.

The bulk of the story revolves around Han making the famous “Kessel Run” in order to help smuggler and thief Tobias Beckett pay a debt to the fearsome crime syndicate Crimson Dawn. The situation becomes slightly complicated when he finds out his some-time girlfriend Qi’ra is now a top lieutenant in the organization.

Let’s start this review off by getting the parts I didn’t like out of the way:

-Lady Proxima: As cool as it was to see Corellia onscreen for the first time, the more I thought about the opening sequence, the more I realized it was completely unnecessary. Han’s entire escape from the planet could have been easily narrated in an opening crawl and we could’ve jumped straight into that mud planet scene where Han meets Beckett and his crew. Not only that, but why bother introducing a character like Lady Proxima (who DID look pretty cool in a gruesome way) if she’s only going to be onscreen for less than five minutes and then never be seen or heard from for the rest of the film?

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-Han running his mouth: the film pulls this stunt one time too many. If you’ve seen any of the original trilogy then you already know Han is in the habit of making boasts or promises he can’t possibly keep. The film practically beats the audience over the head with this concept and it really wasn’t necessary.

-Rio and Val: Does anyone else think we didn’t get to know these characters nearly well enough before they met their respective ends? I mean Rio’s death was hard to watch but at the same time we’d just barely gotten to know him.

Now for what I liked:

Lando Calrissian: Oh my goodness, they weren’t kidding when they said Donald Glover stole the show with his performance. From his first scene to his last, any time Lando is onscreen you can’t help but notice him. If Disney wants to do a stand-alone film about Lando then I am now perfectly okay with it (so long as Glover keeps the role). It also thrilled me to see Han and Lando playing sabaac, as that is a scene that’s played out several times in the old EU books.

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THAT scene with Lando and L3: This is one of the best scenes in the entire film and you will not be able to change my mind. L3 may have just been a droid that drove Lando crazy most of the time, but he really did care about her. Also, what happened afterward was a perfect explanation for why the Falcon’s computer is so….colorful with its language choices.

Han speaks “Wookie”: I actually liked the scene where Han speaks Wookie to Chewbacca in order to convince him that he’s a friend. I’d honestly never thought about whether he could speak it or not, but it makes sense that Han would have at least a small grasp of the language. That being said…he looked so funny speaking the language!

Dryden Vos: Vos is one of my favorite types of villain: he’s kind, courteous, the perfect gentleman right up until he stabs you in the back. At the same time he also reeks of charisma that can easily trick you into forgetting how dangerous he is. I really enjoyed Paul Bettany’s performance, I wish we’d gotten more of it (though who knows, he could always reappear in another anthology film set before this one).

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THAT cameo at the end (warning, if you don’t want to know who it is stop reading NOW!!):

Going in to the film, I was positive I’d narrowed the cameo down to two people: Boba Fett and/or Jabba the Hutt. It made sense to me that young Han would run into one of these two characters. And while the Hutt crime lord is heavily alluded to at the end of the film (there’s no other reason for going to Tatooine), he doesn’t actually appear. After Qi’ra kills Vos and assumes command of Crimson Dawn, she uses a ring to speak with Dryden’s boss who appears in a hologram. The moment this character started speaking, I perked up in my seat because I KNEW that voice and it only belonged to one character. And sure enough, the hood was eventually lifted back to reveal Maul, formerly Darth Maul (embodied by Ray Park, voiced by Sam Witwer), he who got bisected at the end of The Phantom Menace all the way back in 1999.

Now, if you’ve only seen the films, I know this cameo was very confusing for you. Here’s how Darth Maul is alive and well: George Lucas almost immediately regretted killing Maul and kept looking for a way to bring him back. During the Clone Wars animated series (2008-2013) he finally got his chance. Maul reappears in the 4th season where it is revealed that he didn’t die on Naboo but instead clung to life through the Dark Side of the Force and was eventually rescued by his brother (yes Maul had a brother) where he was given mechanical legs. There’s a lot more but that’s the gist of it. Bringing Maul back to the films is HUGE: now the door is wide open for a stand alone film about the former Sith apprentice and I couldn’t be more excited.

While there are several hooks left for a direct sequel, I don’t see it happening anytime soon. Thus far Solo isn’t turning a huge profit so Disney may not see it as worth their while to follow up on this story. I do hope though that Maul’s cameo means that a standalone Maul film is in the works. Only time will tell.

What did you think about Solo: A Star Wars Story? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi-The Ugly

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

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My thoughts on The Last Jedi finally conclude with highlighting everything that infuriated me about this movie (aka the “ugly” parts). I have to admit this list was actually a lot bigger about a month ago, but since I’ve had time to think about it, I’ve realized there wasn’t actually that much to infuriate me. Nevertheless, certain details need to be highlighted.

  • Rey’s parentage (or the lack thereof): It was one of the biggest questions posed by fans coming out of The Force Awakens: Who is Rey and what is her connection to the Star Wars universe? It almost went without saying that a Force user with this level of power had to be related to somebody we knew. Over the last two years I heard every theory under the sun: Rey’s a Skywalker, a Solo, a Kenobi, a Palpatine (don’t even ask me how that one is possible), or (one of the most far-out), she’s the long lost great-great-great times infinity great granddaughter of some legendary Jedi from the Old Republic. It’s no surprise that when The Last Jedi finally arrived that we were all holding our breath to see who Rey was related to (because Rian Johnson had promised we would get our answer).

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The reveal was…anticlimactic to say the very least. After all of that speculation, all of the theories, it seems that Rey is actually…nobody. If Kylo Ren is to be believed, Rey wasn’t hidden on Jakku because she was this big secret Force user. According to Kylo, Rey was left on Jakku because her parents sold her for drinking money. Considering how much time I invested into these theories, I was more than a little upset by this (even though a part of me does understand why they’re going this way). Still…one has to wonder if Kylo IS being truthful. Even if her parents are “nobodies” in the great scheme of things, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re dead or that they sold Rey for drinking money; Kylo may have just wanted her to think that so she would be more inclined to join him. Maybe they’ll clarify a little more in Episode IX (but then again maybe they won’t, after this film I’m afraid to predict anything).

  • Snoke’s premature demise: Before I begin my tirade, let me say that I DID appreciate how Snoke’s apparent death went down. The Supreme Leader is oblivious to the fact that Kylo has turned on him and is subtly maneuvering Anakin’s old lightsaber into a position to impale him. And even though I saw it happening, part of me was sure that Snoke would stop him at the last minute/second…except he didn’t. When the Supreme Leader dropped dead from this throne, my first reaction was “Oh my god, what just happened?” My second reaction was “How could you KILL him like that??” This is the moment that made me really angry because you know and I know that there has to be a backstory for this character, he didn’t just come out of nowhere. Considering we only saw the character in hologram form in The Force Awakens, we were all eagerly waiting to see what we would learn about the character in this film. But we ultimately learned nothing!! Not where Snoke came from, not why he took Kylo under his wing, not even if he’s connected to Palpatine or Darth Plagueis. I’m sorry, I don’t care how many explanations we get, you can’t just introduce this big mysterious character and then kill him before explaining where he came from!! Of course there is a theory that Snoke isn’t really dead (that he pulled a trick similar to Luke) but I don’t necessarily know if this is true.
  • Kylo’s version of the “Join me and we’ll rule the galaxy speech”: I was on cloud nine when Rey and Kylo teamed up to take out the Praetorian Guard after the death of Snoke. It was brilliantly done, and once they were all dead, it truly seemed as if Rey had gotten through to Kylo, that he was going to come with her, he’d be Ben Solo again and it would set up an epic confrontation for Episode IX…and then the Speech started. You know, the one given by Anakin in Episode III; by Vader in Episode V: the “join me, we’ll defeat *insert enemy here* together and rule the galaxy side by side.” When Kylo started on this all-too-familiar spiel with Rey, my first reaction was to groan and roll my eyes. I know part of Star Wars is to deliberately hearken back to earlier moments, but this felt completely forced and it kind of ruined the moment for me. Of course I understand that what happened is Kylo heard Rey’s advice and took it in the wrong direction, but surely they could’ve skipped “the Speech.”

And those are my thoughts on what really infuriated me in The Last Jedi. Do you agree or disagree with my reasoning? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

See also:

Star Wars: The Last Jedi: The Good

Star Wars: The Last Jedi- The Bad

A Random Thought on “The Force Awakens”

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, My Thoughts!!

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)

Star Wars, the one that started it all! (1977)

Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983), the saga concludes (or does it?)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

Star Wars: The Last Jedi- The Bad

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

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Today I’m going to look at parts of The Last Jedi that I considered “bad” (but not infuriating, that comes later). This likely won’t be a comprehensive list, but I’m hoping to hit the major points. Off we go!

  • The entire Canto Bight sub-plot: Part of what really bugged me about The Last Jedi is that, compared to other Star Wars films, we don’t really go anywhere for 90% of the story. Instead we spend the majority of our time in a slow-motion chase with the First Order patiently waiting for the Resistance fleet to literally run out of gas. So when Finn and Rose come up with the plot to get a hacker from Canto Bight, I was excited because we were finally getting away from skipping back and forth from the fleet to Ach-To. And while I don’t deny the planet is beautifully rendered and the chase scenes with the animals are good too, it’s all ultimately meaningless. Think about it: the entire point of bringing in a hacker was to break into Snoke’s mega-destroyer to disable the tracking system so the fleet could jump to hyperspace without being followed. Not only are Rose and Finn caught before they can do this, but the Resistance ultimately abandons their fleet to escape to Crait before squeezing onto the Millennium Falcon to finally get away. So there was really no point in Rose and Finn going to Canto Bight because we’d have arrived at the same end point regardless (in simpler terms: the Canto Bight story is pure filler to add time to the story).
  • “Holding for General Hux.”: This is just barely on the “Bad” list because I did find Poe’s teasing of the First Order funny the first time, but then the joke kept going (with Hux literally saying words to the effect of “Can you hear me now?”) and I found myself squirming with impatience (and not in a good way) for them to get on with the story. I don’t mind humor in a Star Wars film but this went on a few beats too long.
  • Captain Phasma: Is it just me or is the chrome-plated Phasma notably absent from most of this story? When they first introduced her in Episode VII, I was excited to see where they would go with her. And then this movie comes out and we get ONE fight scene; a cool glimpse at an eye under her helmet and then…does she die?? Just like that? There’s not even a shock factor because she appears in the trailers for the movie so we knew this moment was coming.
  • Luke Skywalker for most of the movie: I’m probably going to get grief for this but I had a hard time with Mark Hamill’s performance for a good chunk of his scenes. I don’t know if this is “bad” so much as it “royally subverted my expectations” but at any rate how I feel about it isn’t good so it’s on this list. It started when Luke received his father’s lightsaber, we all held our breath in anticipation of what he’d say…and then he tosses the lightsaber over his shoulder like it’s nothing. Of all the things I was expecting, it wasn’t that. I could also mention how his “training” of Rey really wasn’t what I was led to believe it was based on the trailers but that’s another argument for another list. Note though, that I say “for most of the movie” because by the end (i.e. his appearance on Crait) I’m in love with how he’s acting.
  • Where are the Knights of Ren?: Considering Kylo is considered “Master of the Knights of Ren”, you’d think we’d have seen them by now (or at least heard from them). But as of yet, except for that brief scene during Rey’s vision in The Force Awakens, we have not seen a trace of these “Knights of Ren” and now only a single film remains for them to be properly introduced and made use of. That doesn’t seem quite right to me, especially since the film seems to hint that some of them were fellow Jedi trainees at Luke’s school (he did say that Kylo didn’t kill ALL of the students).
  • The Rey/Kylo visions: On one level, this was really cool, but for the most part this came across as super AWKWARD. The one conversation where Rey is distracted because Kylo is shirtless had me groaning because it sounded like two teenagers having a telephone conversation (I mean, Kylo and Rey aren’t supposed to be teenagers…are they?). I understand the plot purpose of doing this, but there were some moments where it just felt wrong.

And those are the highlights of what I thought was bad about Star Wars: The Last Jedi! Did I leave anything significant out? Do you agree/disagree? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

See also:

Star Wars: The Last Jedi: The Good

Star Wars: The Last Jedi-The Ugly

A Random Thought on “The Force Awakens”

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, My Thoughts!!

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

Star Wars: The Last Jedi: The Good

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

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I have been trying for a long time now to gather my thoughts on Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which says a lot about the film given how I was able to gush over Rogue One pretty easily. I’ve finally decided on a way to get my thoughts out there: rather than dumping everything into a single post (which is my usual method), I’m going to break this review up into what I liked (the good); what I didn’t like (the bad); and what downright infuriated me (the ugly). So this post will be highlights of what I liked in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

  • The return of Yoda: I LOVED this scene! When the camera panned over to reveal a familiar set of pointy ears with a familiar blue haze, my first reaction was “OMG yes it’s YODA!!” Somehow I just knew that we would see the deceased Jedi Grand Master before the movie was over (and for the record, I did not know about Frank Oz talking about the film before release, this was a complete surprise to me). This scene, combined with Luke’s reunion with R2-D2 were the two times I really felt like the “old” Luke from the original trilogy was back. The way he griped to Yoda like a pouting child, only to be whacked on the head with Yoda’s cane was just priceless! Bringing in Yoda was an excellent decision on Rian Johnson’s part.
  • Rey+Kylo+Throne Room = EPIC: Leaving aside what happened immediately before this scene, the fight between Kylo and Rey and the Praetorian Guard was absolutely beautiful. It’s kind of scary how well those two work together on short notice (if Rey ever did align herself with Kylo they might just be unstoppable). This is one of those scenes that helps to make Star Wars so special.
  • Luke’s final stand: In hindsight, I should have known that Luke wasn’t actually on Crait. All the hints were thrown out there beforehand: Kylo and Rey can see each other when they aren’t really there, they can even touch and it feels real. Not to mention Kylo’s ominous hint that “the strain (of projecting yourself) would kill you.” But I was so caught up in the moment of seeing Luke Skywalker, the legendary Jedi Master, walking out to face the First Order that I really didn’t think about how he got there or when. I just assumed that (off-screen), he’d thought about Rey’s words (and Yoda’s), raised up his X-Wing and hotfooted it to Crait where he could sense everything going down. One big clue that this was an illusion? Luke’s appearance is identical to how he looked on the night Kylo destroyed the new Jedi temple. That alone should have told me something was up (at the time I assumed that Luke had cleaned himself up before heading out). Even when the First Order fired on him at point blank range, I still didn’t get it. I just thought “Well he’s a Jedi Master, he can dodge and deflect anything.” It was only when Kylo went to slash Luke through the middle, clearly made contact, and Luke was still standing that I realized it…he wasn’t really there, he never had been. And I don’t feel disappointed by this revelation (because some have told me that this ruins the last meeting between Luke and Leia because Luke “wasn’t really there.”) I disagree; Leia knew the whole time (I’m sure) that Luke was only an illusion, but that didn’t matter. She could see him, and touch him, and it was their way of saying goodbye. And speaking of goodbyes…
  • Binary sunset: The revelation that Ach-To has twin suns like Tatooine was unexpected, momentarily confusing, but ultimately satisfying. Luke’s face as he took the sunset in said it all. In that moment, he was thinking back over everything: the sunset he saw on Tatooine the night before his life changed forever; saving Leia, destroying the Death Star, going to save his father, it all flashed through his mind. And then…with his work done, he vanished. This moment destroyed me, as I’d dared to hope that we’d sidestepped seeing Luke die when it was revealed that Luke wasn’t really on Crait. It didn’t help that Carrie Fisher had passed away the year before (so after her death and watching Han and now Luke die onscreen, it was pretty emotional for me).
  • The Supreme Leader is dead (?): Finally, I have to share my thoughts on the scene when General Hux discovers that Supreme Leader Snoke is (apparently) dead. He seemingly accepts Kylo’s version of events (that Rey killed him when it was really Kylo) and begins to lament that the Supreme Leader is dead, they have no leader now, when a furious Kylo seizes Hux with a Force choke and queries “The Supreme Leader is dead? Catching on, Hux chokes out “Long live the Supreme Leader!” I liked this scene because of how it played out. Hux is oblivious to the fact that Snoke’s death (his apparent death anyway) means that Kylo is now in charge. I’m calling it now: Kylo and Hux will come to blows before Episode IX is over, especially if Hux figures out that Kylo is the one who killed Snoke.

And those are my highlights for what was good in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Of course there was more that I liked than this, but if I listed everything the post would be several thousand words longer!

Which parts of Star Wars: The Last Jedi did you think were good? Let me know your thoughts (on the good only) in the comments below!

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

See also:

Star Wars: The Last Jedi- The Bad

Star Wars: The Last Jedi-The Ugly

A Random Thought on “The Force Awakens”

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, My Thoughts!!

Star Wars, the one that started it all! (1977)

Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983), the saga concludes (or does it?)

“Jyn Erso and Hope” from Rogue One, my thoughts…

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

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I can’t believe it’s been nearly two months since I saw Rogue One. Since then, I have been turning over portions of the score in my mind, particularly “Jyn Erso and Hope”, the main theme for our badass heroine.

From the moment I first heard it, something wiggled in the back of my mind and said “I’ve heard something like this before.” But for the longest time I couldn’t think of what that something was.

Then I went back and listened again, and finally it dawned on me: I know EXACTLY where I’ve heard this melody before (granted it wasn’t the exact same, but the core is still intact).

“Jyn Erso and Hope” is, to put it simply, a variation on “Across the Stars”, the love theme for Padme and Anakin from Episode II/III. Here, let the music speak for itself:

Here is “Jyn Erso and Hope”

and here is “Across the Stars”

To my ears, it sounds like Giacchino took components from “Across the Stars” and rearranged a few notes. But if enough of a similarity remains, the mind will remember and try to supply the missing parts (that’s how I knew I’d heard the theme somewhere else).

I don’t think there’s any hidden symbolism behind this, as it makes no sense for there to be any connection between Anakin/Padme and Jyn (though part of me does wonder if Jyn’s mother was a Jedi, she DID have a kyber crystal after all).

I’m not particularly surprised that Giacchino borrowed from another piece of Star Wars music; this is a practice that dates back to the dawn of film music (they don’t really talk about it, but everyone knows about it), but a part of me wishes that he had done a better job of disguising the theme if he wanted to do something like that.

I’m interested to hear what all of you think about this: do you hear the similarity? Or do you hear a connection to another piece? I love discussing film music like this 🙂

See also: Film Soundtracks A-W

Become a patron of the blog at: patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

See also:

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, My Thoughts!!

R.I.P. Carrie Fisher (1956-2016)

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She’s gone. Our Princess Leia, heroine extraordinaire of the Star Wars Universe, has passed away several days after suffering a heart attack en route from London to LAX. And she was only 60!!

I’d actually thought I was numb to the loss that this year has inflicted. After all, think of everyone who has been taken: David Bowie, Alan Rickman, George Michael, Anton Yelchin, Gene Wilder, Florence Henderson, John Glenn, Zsa Zsa Gabor, the list stretches on and on. There’s been so much death and there’s only so much of it I can process before my mind retreats for the sake of its own sanity. But then THIS happened and it hurts like a knife plunged straight into my heart.

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I actually thought she was getting better, reports had said she was stable (which is good) and I was looking forward to hearing word of her recovery. And then, not even ten minutes ago, I saw the news…that she was gone.

I’m probably going to spend the next few days raging at the injustice of it all, not to mention binging on the classic Star Wars films.

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The other role I loved her in: Jake’s jilted bride in The Blues Brothers

As raw as this wound is, i can’t help but wonder what’s going to happen with Episode IX (filming having wrapped for Episode VIII). Before Rogue One, I presume they would’ve tastefully either explained her absence or killed the character offscreen (or something of the sort), but after Rogue One….I hope and pray that they don’t do what they did with Tarkin. I don’t care if the actress gave permission for her image to be used for such a thing, if they attempt to “resurrect” her for Episode IX, I won’t forgive them, ever.

I’m hurt, I’m angry, and most of all I’m upset that yet another amazing, talented person was taken away from us by a cruel year. Rest in peace Carrie Fisher, to me you’ll always be Princess Leia.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016), My Thoughts!!

*the links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

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Warning!!! This review spoils EVERYTHING about Rogue One, if you haven’t seen the film and DON’T want to know, stop reading NOW!!!

Still here? Okay, continue!! (But remember, you were warned!!)

Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, OH.MY.GOSH!!! Thursday night, 9:45 p.m., the long wait finally ended and I saw Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the first stand-alone Star Wars film in the Anthology series. And oh boy did it deliver!! The film does have one flaw, but I’ll get to that after a bit, let’s start with one of the best parts of the film…

DARTH VADER IS BACK!!!

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Let’s all be honest, I think most of us who have gone to see this film did it because Vader was showing up (I know that certainly helped to sway my decision). This is the first time Vader (in all his armored glory) has graced the cinematic screen since Revenge of the Sith in 2005 (though granted that was a very short appearance). In Rogue One, Vader is at the height of his power and general nastiness. Believe it or not, he’s in the film for not quite ten minutes (split into two appearances): his first scene takes place on the lava planet Mustafar where he’s since built an imposing castle-fortress to reside in when he’s not on some mission for the Emperor. I THOUGHT I recognized the planet, but I wasn’t sure until a YouTube review from @StupendousWave (my favorite source for Star Wars news) confirmed my suspicion. Not only do we see this amazing fortress, we also see Vader, briefly, as we’ve never seen him before: completely armorless in a bacta tank. It’s only a few glimpses, really, but it was more than enough to show how little remains of Vader’s human body before he re-armors in order to greet Director Krennic properly.

Speaking of Krennic, he’s the main antagonist for most of the film, or at least he tries to be. Krennic comes across as one of those villains who assigns to himself more importance than he actually has. For instance, a major sticking point (with Krennic) is that he receive the proper credit for developing the Death Star for all these years. When this credit is about to be taken away from him (by a certain character that I will discuss shortly), Krennic dares to whine about this to Vader, who Force chokes him for his troubles.

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I really thought that Krennic would meet his ultimate fate at Vader’s hands, but what really happened was almost as good. The film’s climax takes place on the tropical planet of Scarif, where the Death Star plans are stored in an archive. The Rebels, led by Jyn Erso and company, infiltrate the base, and Krennic (arriving around the same time) moves to stop them. Ultimately, the Death Star arrives and after a long engagement with the Rebel fleet, the Death Star is ordered to fire on the base, destroying it. Krennic, badly wounded from a blaster shot, is trapped on the base’s communication tower and witnesses the weapon he helped create firing on the planet, knowing there is no way he can escape the shock wave in time. Talk about irony!!

And who orders the Death Star to fire? Who is taking the credit for this great achievement away from Director Krennic? Why, Grand Moff Tarkin of course! You know, the villain portrayed by Peter Cushing in the original Star Wars film in 1977? Yes, him!!

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But wait, I hear you all say, didn’t he die back in 1994? Yes, yes he did! And yet, here he is! I confess, I did NOT see this moment coming. I partially blame this on being buried in dissertation work, but also on a slight misunderstanding on my part. I, of course, heard the news very early this year that Disney was working on a CGI replication of Cushing’s character. However, when the main villian was announced to be Director Krennic, I was under the impression that they had scrapped the CGI-Cushing idea. It never dawned on me that they were going to do both!

I mentioned that the film has one flaw, and, please don’t be upset, but that flaw is Tarkin. Don’t misunderstand me, the character as he appears on screen is a remarkable achievement. Digital creations of a human character have come lightyears in terms of appearance and believability and Tarkin is so realistic it’s scary. But…it doesn’t quite work. The first time we see Tarkin, he has his back to the audience (though you know instantly who he is). The big reveal comes when he turns around, and the moment I saw him, I KNEW what they had done. You can see the CGI elements in the way Tarkin moves his head and speaks. The “uncanny valley”, as it were, is still in effect. I WAS able to suspend my disbelief some of the time though, so for me it wasn’t a fatal flaw. I am curious to know what you all thought of seeing Tarkin brought back to life again.

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Moving on to the rest of the story and our heroes, Jyn Erso, Cassian Andor and K-2SO make a great trio. Jyn is the daughter of Galen Erso, a brilliant scientist forcibly returned to the Death Star project by Krennic, and also the man responsible for placing the fatal flaw inside the Death Star that leads to its destruction in Episode IV. Jyn, his only child, has lived on her own for years, and loves her father very much. She is initially recruited to the Rebellion because the Alliance is searching for her father, and a Rebel extremist named Saw Gerrera has in custody a defecting Imperial pilot who came from the installation where Galen works (it’s a little complicated, but still good!)

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Outside of Jyn, K-2SO might be the best character on the side of the heroes: he’s an Imperial droid reprogrammed by Cassian and he has the snarkiest sense of humor you’ve ever seen, but his loyalty to Cassian (and the Rebellion) is unquestionable. He and Jyn do not get along for most of the film, but by the end, they’ve earned each other’s respect.

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My other two favorite characters are Chirrut and Baze Malbus. They were formerly Guardians of the Whills (they served at the local Jedi temple on the planet Jedha, they can feel the Force, but can’t actively control it the way a Jedi could) before the Empire, and now they are inseparable. Chirrut still believes in the Force after all this time, while Baze has become more of a skeptic. Chirrut has this habit of praying over and over “I am one with the Force and the Force is with me, I am one with the Force and the Force is with me, etc.” He’s actually blind, but is so in tune with the Force that he can fight as well as any sighted person.

And speaking of the end, deep down, I think I knew this was going to happen, but I was secretly hoping at least one of them would get out alive. Yes, you heard right, in the end, none of them make it off Scarif. Jyn, Cassian, K-2SO, Chirrut, Baze, even Bodhi (the defecting Imperial pilot who has been helping them), one by one, they all die. Jyn and Cassian are the last, they successfully transmit the Death Star plans up to the fleet, but immediately afterward, the battleship fires on the planet. It’s not enough to break up the planet itself (the weapon isn’t quite finished yet), but it is enough to destroy the base. The blast is set out in the nearby ocean so it takes a few minutes for the destruction to reach the pair. Jyn and Cassian have just enough time to reach the beach, reflect on what they’ve done and embrace before they meet their end in a fiery cloud of death. It’s terrifying to me because as they sit meeting their end, Jyn is facing the shockwave as it comes, and you can’t help but wonder what she’s feeling, knowing her death is seconds away.

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And the Easter eggs in this film boggle the mind, simply because there are so many of them! Let me see if I can name more than a few: there’s several sightings of Senator Bail Organa (Jimmy Smits reprising his role from the prequel trilogy); Jyn and Cassian (literally) bump into the pair that tries to assault Luke in the cantina on Tatooine (“He doesn’t like you, I don’t like you either…”); R2 and C-3PO pop up for a split second at Yavin base; in possibly one of the best Easter egg moments, the characters of Red Leader and Gold Leader are featured, briefly, in the climactic battle over Scarif in a clever re-use of some footage from Episode IV; and there are several references to the Star Wars Rebels series (listen for the page asking for “General Syndulla”). There’s more, but that’s most of them.

Lastly, I have to talk about the music. I was so nervous about Michael Giacchino composing the score for this film, and I was terrified it wouldn’t be any good. While I still need to go back and analyze the score, my first impression was very favorable. It definitely helps that Giacchino re-used several of Williams’ themes at key points in the story (particularly the Imperial March, I would’ve been furious if he’d left THAT out). The music definitely isn’t bad, but how GOOD it ultimately is I can’t say just yet (I need to listen to the soundtrack separate from the film before I can give a definite opinion).

Final thoughts:

Rogue One is a worthy addition to the Star Wars canon, though it treads dangerously close to the line with its use of CGI to recreate certain characters. The Easter eggs make this film a fun watch for any Star Wars fan.

It was WEIRD having no opening crawl (and no Star Wars fanfare), I almost wish they would go back and recreate the opening to have a crawl anyway.

It was cool (and a little freaky) to see Peter Cushing’s Tarkin walking and talking again, they’ve almost nailed recreating a human character in full CGI (but NOT QUITE)

Ending the film moments before Episode IV begins was a nice touch, though I am somewhat not okay with how they recreated Princess Leia. I would have preferred seeing her from the back only.

I am so happy we got to see Vader use his lightsaber!!!!! After the first scene, I was terrified that we weren’t going to get any more Vader, not even with his lightsaber, so seeing that at the end was fantastic!

And those are my thoughts on Rogue One. What did YOU think of the film? Loved it? Hated it? Already in line to see it again? Let me know in the comments below (first chance I get I’m going to see this film again, that’s for sure).

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See also:

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)

Star Wars, the one that started it all! (1977)

Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983), the saga concludes (or does it?)

A Random Thought on “The Force Awakens”

Star Wars: The Last Jedi: The Good

Star Wars: The Last Jedi- The Bad

Star Wars: The Last Jedi-The Ugly