Posts tagged “Star Wars”

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Movie Review: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire. During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire's ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet.

Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire. During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) ★★★½

There are a lot of things to really love about Rogue One. It turns away from the high-opera, swashbuckling theatrics of the magical Skywalker family and their ilk and looks at the people who work behind the scenes of their heroics. The grunts of the Star Wars world, if you will; intelligence agents, freighter pilots, on-the-ground resistance fighters, people just trying to survive in a galaxy gone mad. As such it has a much different feel that the main Star Wars series.

Let’s face it, the Star Wars movies have basically been overblown Saturday morning cartoons. Sure there’s some great subtext and Joseph Campbell’s The Hero With a Thousand Faces, but come on. You’ve got wizards and princesses knights and silly jesters droids. But in Rogue One you get a real feel for how this universe actually functions for regular people.

I also really loved how it played up the ambiguity of using violence to fight evil. The Rebellion, which in Episodes IV-VI is held up as this shining beacon of hope, and the ultimate force of good against the evil of the Empire. But the Rebellion has Cassian do some really awful things (including straight-up murder someone as his first act in the movie), and it turns out a lot of the people in the Rebellion are complete assholes and cowards who condone some really bad things in the name of good. It’s a fascinating slippery-slope peek behind the curtain that I thought was great. No heroes are perfect, and no movements are devoid of evil.

I enjoyed the ensemble cast; it ends up being a fun group of merry outsiders kinda like Robin Hood’s merry men. They don’t all get a lot of character development apart from Jyn and Cassian, but their characterizations are strong enough that you get who they are quickly and you like them. Shining star among them is the reprogrammed murderbot K-2SO, who is definitely one of the good guys now but who just can’t help but let that murderbot programming be simmering right under the surface. Most of the movie’s funniest moments are because of K-2. Alan Tudyk (who was also the voice of the robots in I, Robot) is becoming one of my favorite voice actors (look him up in the last five Disney movies). Also as a side note: wasn’t it nice to see such a diverse cast? Anyway…

There are a couple of minor action sequences in the first couple acts of the movie, but really it all just builds to a masterful third act action climax. There are so many things going on in this climax, but it is scripted and edited masterfully so that you’re never confused where anyone is or what they’re supposed to be doing (or what their current obstacle is). The space battles above the planet are top-notch. We know that this plan is successful because the opening crawl of Episode IV says it is (“Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire. During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet.”), but we don’t know how it was done or at what cost, so there is a surprising amount of suspense.

That said, the pacing of the first act of the movie (not counting the prologue, which is great) is f★★ked up. It bounces from scene to scene with no context and no introduction. The exposition is awkward and weird. You don’t know who characters are. Things happen for no known reason. What the heck was with that “truth monster” thing that Saw Guerrera uses? What was that doing in the movie at all? People spend way too much time talking about other people doing stuff instead of just showing us those people as they do stuff (“Did you hear an imperial pilot defected?” “I heard an imperial pilot defected!”). It doesn’t finally settle into a cohesive rhythm until Jyn ends up on Jedha.

There is also the matter of a seemingly important plot thread being dropped with no consequence. Jyn et al are going to rescue Jyn’s father, until some asshole in the Rebellion gives Cassian a countermanding order: to kill Jyn’s father. And eventually Jyn’s father is killed by the Rebellion, and Jyn learns that this asshole ordered his death and does… nothing. It’s immediately dropped and never mentioned again. It just seemed really bizarre to have that sub-plot in this movie at all.

But this is still a thoroughly enjoyable movie. It’s a grittier (I hate using that word but it applies here), more grounded Star Wars movie in which the heroes have to use guile and pluck and damnable determination to win instead of magic and mythology. It is a worthy entry into the ouvre. I plan on owning it to watch at my leisure.

Categories: Movie Reviews.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

“Of the Month” May 2016

Album of the Month:
tacocat_lost-time
Lost Time by Tacocat

It’s no real secret that one of my favorite genres of music is mid-late 90s female-led power pop/rock. One of my favorite all-time musicians and songwriters is Kay Hanley (of Letters to Cleo fame). Veruca Salt’s “Eight Arms to Hold You” is one of my favorite albums. So it should be really no surprise that I’m totally digging on local Seattle band Tacocat right now, seeing as how they’re basically the heir to this sound infused with a healthy dose of 90s Olympia Riot Grrrl. Their songs are catchy, catchy, catchy, with lots of interesting influences from the 60s, punk of the 70s, and of course the grunge of the 90s. Also, they’re big nerds. “Lost Time” is a reference to UFO abductions, and the first song on the album is called “Dana Katherine Skully” after the main character of The X-Files. Also, they wrote the new theme song to the Powerpuff Girls revival that’s currently airing on Cartoon Network. Nerds. Here:

Movie of the Month:
star-wars_the-force-awakens
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Spectacular.
Wait, I didn’t do that right.

SPECTACULAR!

There, that’s better. I mean, come on. It’s so, so, so much fun.

Comic Book of the Month:
msmarvel
Ms. Marvel

G. Willow Wilson’s Ms. Marvel is a great comic book about the fun and angst of being a superhero (not to mention being a teenager, a girl, a muslim-American, and a nerd to boot). What’s so great about it is that it never gets bogged down by any one thing. It’s zippy and funny and genuine, but also really weird and cartoony and embraces all of its weirdness in a charming matter-of-fact way. The Marvel universe is full of almost-constant bizarre happenings. A Norse god disrupting your school dance isn’t really that out of the ordinary (and certainly nothing to get freaked out about). Protagonist Kamala is a refreshing bit of brightness in an all-too-often-gloomy genre. She doesn’t know exactly what she’s doing; she only knows she wants to help people. Ms. Marvel is the best comic book to come out in the last five years. This omnibus collection doesn’t come out until this Autumn, but I’m very much looking forward to it.

Categories: Of the Month.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Hello, EMP

Y’know, that great-big Experience Music Project museum thingy up in Seattle? Well, since I actually live in this state and am not a tourist, I’d never actually been there. Until last weekend! But the reason we went this time was not to see all the musics stuffs. It’s because they have a Hello Kitty exhibit, and both my daughter and my niece loooooove Hello Kitty.

It was pretty interesting!

I did not know she lived near London.

I did not know she lived near London.

The most important part of the Hello Kitty timeline.

The most important part of the Hello Kitty timeline.

Fun fact: the Smurfs are all 2 apples high. So Hello Kitty is 2.5 Smurfs high. I think we should all use "Smurf" as a measurement of height from now on.

Fun fact: the Smurfs are all 2 apples high. So Hello Kitty is 2.5 Smurfs high. I think we should all use “Smurf” as a measurement of height from now on.

We all live in a kitty submarine...

We all live in a kitty submarine…

All sorts of random crap with Hello Kitty's face on it. My favorite here is the Hello Kitty paper shredder, for all your adorable document destruction needs.

All sorts of random crap with Hello Kitty’s face on it. My favorite here is the Hello Kitty paper shredder, for all your adorable document destruction needs.

Nothing beats Hello Kitty motor oil, though. It makes your car's exhaust smell like cat breath.*

Nothing beats Hello Kitty motor oil, though. It makes your car’s exhaust smell like cat breath.*

Delicious?

Delicious?

"Papa, Hello Kitty has a snake on her head!"

“Papa, Hello Kitty has a snake on her head!”

This guy.

This guy.

My favorite part of EMP, though (to nobody’s surprise), was the Science Fiction Museum in the basement. It has some great artifacts.

O HALLO THERE HAVE YOU HEARD OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST?

O HALLO THERE HAVE YOU HEARD OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST?

Tiny war of the tiny worlds.

Tiny war of the tiny worlds.

"This is Ripley, the last survivor of the tiny Nostromo, signing off."

“This is Ripley, the last survivor of the tiny Nostromo, signing off.”

Leeloo Dallas multi-pass. MULTI-PASS.

Leeloo Dallas multi-pass. MULTI-PASS.

That pistol on the right was held by Sir Patrick Stewart. That needle tried to stab Agent Dale Cooper.*

That pistol on the right was held by Sir Patrick Stewart. That needle tried to stab Agent Dale Cooper.*

Darryl Hannah wore this Pris outfit on our first date.*

Darryl Hannah wore this Pris outfit on our first date.*

They also have fantasy and horror sections, which are inherently less interesting to me, but there were some cool stuffs:

Elderberries smell good.

Elderberries smell good.

As the world falls down...

As the world falls down…

They also had the mask of Hellboy’s personal Death from Hellboy II, but I neglected to take a poto of it.

They also had an Indie Game hall where you can play a bunch of new indie video games, and a Jimi Hendrix exhibit that had a bunch of his suitcases and passports and travel documents and stuffs like that.

EMP is an interesting place! But it’s pretty durned expensive to go there.

*This is a lie.

Categories: Articles, Life, Pictures.

Friday, 27 March 2015

“Star Wars: TIE Fighter” Anime-Style Short Film

TIE Fighter Poster by MightyOtaking

TIE Fighter Poster by MightyOtaking

Even though it was just released a couple of days ago, you’ve probably already seen this because it has literally millions of views already. But here’s the scoop: a guy named Paul Johnson (also known as MightyOtaKing and OtaKing77077) spent the last four years basically single-handedly animating a seven-minute space battle set in the Star Wars universe, from the point of view of the TIE Fighters of the Empire. Bonus: it’s done in the style of old-school animé like Robotech and Starblazers!

Aside from the obvious awesomeness, there are some really cool technical things going on in this short. Johnson’s visualization of the interior of the TIE Fighter cockpits is actually a combination of the small amount we get to see in the movies with the 1994 LucasArts TIE Fighter video game display!

Johnson put a lot of care and thought into the film, including working up absurdly detailed character profiles and backstories for the four leads that get the most screen time in the film. You can peruse a PDF of them all (and extensive notes on the creation of the cockpits) at your leisure.

Flight Lieutenant Ada's scar was apparently caused by a closet door.

Flight Lieutenant Ada’s scar was apparently caused by a closet door.

You can also find the score for the film (by Zak Rahman) here:

I also appreciate how Johnson didn’t do any crowdfunding or anything like that in order to get this done. This was a labor of love and time, not a money-making scheme (though I’ve little doubt the offers will likely start rolling in after this). As he says:

Don’t support me on Patreon, because I don’t have one! And don’t donate to my Kickstarter, because I don’t have one of those either. Instead, if you enjoyed this, give someone at your workplace, uni, school or whatever a random bar of chocolate or can or Coke or something. Seriously, it’ll probably make their day.
That would totally make my day.

This film is proof that you don’t always need to seek funding to do something you love. Sometimes all you need is to put in the effort and time. Well, done, Paul. Well done.

TIE-Fighter-Paul-Johnson

Categories: Cartoons, Videos.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

“Of the Month” November 2014

Album of the Month:
Cover of ALITE Julia Massey and the Five Finger Discount: A.L.I.T.E.
IT HASN’T EVEN COME OUT YET!!! I’ll update this more when the album is released, but I’ve heard about 90% of it and UPDATE! The Album Has Been Released! You can git it here:
http://juliamassey.bandcamp.com/album/a-l-i-t-e

It is awexome and there is a song for my daughter in it! Here is the video!

The album is being released on Saturday. JOIN ME THERE!

Video Game(s) of the Month:
Tie Fighter X-Wing & Tie Fighter
I very fondly remember back in the early/mid 1990s playing a tonne of these video games in Ryan Roullard’s mom’s basement on the MS-DOS computer down there. And now, finally, you can play them again (PC only). These two games are the best flight simulators I have ever played, and probably my favorite-ever games that take place in the Star Wars universe. There’s something weirdly fun about adjusting shields, shifting where you put your ship’s power (divert all shields to blasters now! and the like), and blasting the hell out of your enemies’ ships. The controls are natural and the 3-D radar is extremely intuitive. It feels like you’re dogfighting in the Star Wars movies.

Tabletop Game of the Month:
bw-dice Bravest Warriors Co-Operative Dice Game
A very funny game in which your team must defeat various obstacles by rolling the right combination of die. Yes, team. This is a co-operative game: either you all win (by scoring enough victory points or by using up all the event cards), or you all lose! It keeps with the spirit of the Bravest Warriors webseries by being delightfully nonsensical yet still very easy to follow. Let’s play (once I get my own set for Christmas).

Categories: Of the Month.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Beginning of Summer Round-up

Here are some interesting things I’ve found around teh intarwebs in the past few weeks that never made it into my blog here… until now (I’m pretty sure most of ’em made it onto Facebook or Twitter, though).

OCTOCAM

octopusIf you ever, ever want to know what an octopus is doing right this very second, Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center has installed a camera in the tank of their resident 40-pound Pacific octopus, Deriq.

It is for some reason very enjoyable and relaxing to watch Deriq meander around in his tank.

ALT/1977: WE ARE NOT TIME-TRAVELERS

Artist Alex Varanese has imagined what it would look like if someone from today went back in time and re-created today’s modern electronics—cell phone, laptop, hand-held video game system, mp3 player—using the design aesthetics of 1977.

The results are absolutely fan-frikkin’-tastic.

f2826327c1e294a53c6f622daef3459f

I was born in 1977, so I completely remember this style of design. Y’all have no idea how much I miss high technology that had a faux-woodgrain finish. Glorious.

EDWARD CULLEN TAMPON CASE

Etsy crafter and all-around awexome human being Taisha McGee made the one piece of merchandise that no Twilight fan should be without.

il_430xN.148990025

The product description speaks for itself:

Bella’s most useful accessory. Case is 5.5″ by 2″ and holds two average sized tampons. Edward’s face is sparkly. Tampons not included.

RIVER TAM AND THE FIREFLIES

River Tam and the Fireflies

Holy eff but that is so freakin’ adorable. This is an actual album sleeve that artist Joebot made for a gallery show (happens on July 9th).

But the really cool thing is that you can purchase a print of this picture at his Etsy shop as a gift to send to me! Joebot has some other really cool prints as well, like ones of the Nintendo princesses (and Samus).

AT-AT DAY AFTERNOON

An absolutely adorable short film with seamless special effects animation. Very well done.

THE WORLD’S ONLY NEWSPAPER

This is a fascinating collection of still frames and clips of people reading newspapers in dozens of films and television shows. The exact same newspaper each time. Going back decades. It looks like this:

newspapers_in_tv_640_42

It’s actually kind of astonishing how wide-spread this newspaper really is.

AQUATIC VIDEOS

Here are a couple of videos of aquatic awesomeness:

WATERMELON TURTLE

This extravagantly cute melon bowl is from my link-of-the month, Host-It Notes.

turtle-2-hi1

There are all sorts of other darling little foodstuffs at Host-It Notes, like sheep cupcakes, mushroom radishes, and frosting bees!

*-*-*-*-*

That’s about it for now.

Categories: Artists, Arts & Crafts, Computers, Cooking, Links, Movies, Pictures, Round-up, TV, Videos.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008)


I’ve got a bad feeling about this…

Directed by Dave Filoni

This movie got hideously vilified when it was released into theaters, but really there isn’t very much that is actively bad in it. It’s only real problem was that it should never have been released into theaters to begin with… [read my full review here]

Categories: Movie Reviews.