Star Wars: Rogue One:
there's a short little former-Marine at my Law School who is totally into Star Wars.
we talk about Star Wars sometimes because we don't have much else to say to each other.
really, i'm a Star Trek man, but i can fake my way through a Sta Wars conversation if i need to.
anyways, the little fella said that Rogue One is the best Star Wars movie he's seen since Empire Strikes Back.
that's high praise in the Star Wars world, so i was looking forward to watching it.
the PSE complained “didn't we just watch a Star Wars!?!” and we did just see Episode VII two or four months ago, but the people at Disney realized they could make more money if they released more then three Star Wars movies every twenty years, so, we've got another one to get through.
also, girls don't like Star Wars so the PSE's complaining is kind of irreverent.

Rogue One is the story of the Rebel Alliance's efforts to get the plans for the Death Star just before the events of A New Hope.
you know how you watched A New Hope and Luke is able to blow up the Death Star just by shooting one little thing on it and you thought “what the fuck!?! that's just bad writing!!!”
this was a movie to fix that plot hole.
Rogue One is also a movie about a girl discovering that she has the power to have amazing adventures, because Star Wars can't ever be a movie about adult things.
it always has to be a movie about the power young adults discover inside themselves.
at least there wasn't all that much Jedi bullshit this go-round, though.

Rogue One takes place after the fall of the Old Republic that stood during the prequels and before the New Republic in Episode VII, contemporaneous with the Empire's interregnum seen during A New Hope.
it starts off with some Imperial troops coming to take away some little girl's dad because he is a scientist they need to work on the Death Star.
the little girl escapes and spends the next ten or so years being raised by Forest Whitaker.
fifteen years later the girl is a young adult who has been arrested by Imperials for reasons that don't matter.
the Rebels break her out because they need her to get in touch with Forest Whitaker because he's got some information from an Imperial defector that the Empire is building a super weapon.
so, the girl goes to Space Afghanistan where the Space Taliban is fighting the Empire and she meets Forest Whitaker who tells her that her real dad has built a secret vulnerability into the Death Star but that she will need to go to some other planet where the Empire keeps all of its blueprints for shit to know what that secret vulnerability is.
the Rebel Alliance doesn't want to stage a raid on Planet Archives because they're a bunch of pussies, i guess, so the girl and her friends have to go steal the plans themselves.
the Empire intercepts them and Darth Vader is there kicking ass and Grand Moff Tarkin, is moffing it up and in the end all the good guys die because this is a stand-alone movie, not the start of a franchise, but they get the plans for the Death Star out to the Rebels for sabotage purposes.
the movie ends with Princess Leia flying off with the plans for the Death Star, straight into Episode IV.

sure enough, the little Marine at my Law School wasn't wrong. Rogue One was a good movie.
the main story itself wasn't all that exceptional, the main character was almost boring, but she wasn't as insufferable as the weird-mouthed main character of Episode VII.
what made Rogue One a good movie was the world it was set in; the interconnection to the Star Wars story we know, and the teasing of a story we want to know more about.
it was awesome to see Darth Vadar and Princess Leia and Grand Moff Tarkin again, and the CIG necessary to make Tarkin not be dead like he is in real life and Leia not all puffy and bloated from space-cocaine wasn't noticeable at all.
after watching the movie, i went trolling through Wikipedia, looking to learn more about Forest Whitaker and the Mon Calamari Admiral who died leading the Rebel fleet's attempt to protect the main characters getting the plans out of the Space Archives.
good movies should always send you running to the Wikipedia after you're through for more.

for being a good movie that left me wanting to know more and for finally doing something about that unsightly plot-hole that there is one structural weakness that can destroy the Empire's super weapon, Rogue One earns a 7.7/10.

Arrival:
Arrival made it onto my queue of movies to steal from the internet as an afterthought.
i was barely aware that it existed and as much as i knew about it came from the people on the 4Chan shitting on it.
but, i've watched movies for less, so, okay...

Arrival is a movie about a bunch of spaceships that arrive at twelve different locations across the earth and about the American government's efforts to make contact with theirs
but these space aliens who have mastered intergalactic travel don't seem to have been able to invent a basic translation matrix so they just turned up on Earth shrugging their tentacles hoping Earthlings can figure out communication.
Army Colonel Forest Whitaker recruits some Ginger Linguist to go out to the Space Ship in America to make contact.
she finds a pair of giant squid monsters who live in a fog and communicate by squirting ink in different circular patterns.
she spends the next month later trying to decipher these ink circles and eventually she starts to be able to see the future for some bullshit reason.
the Sapir–Whorf Hypothesis says that language dictates our perception and that's fine, but perception of reality is different from being able to bend the laws of space-time, which isn't possible, but if it is, surely it requires more then a few weeks worth of staring at different circles.
i can go check out a Rosetta Stone audio-book to learn Esperanto but that shit won't make me an X-Men.

anyways, after a month of the world's governments staring at these spaceships unable to figure out what the fuck the squid monsters want, China prepares to go to war with the space aliens.
because China is fucking China.
Russia and the Sudan follow, though, i don't know what the Sudan hopes to accomplish short of firing a bunch of old AK-47s at it.
ultimately, the Ginger Linguist is able to back the Chinese off of the brink of war because she jumped ahead to the future and the Commanding General of the People's Liberation Army told her a secret password to repeat to him in the present.
the Chinese stand down and ultimately all the nations of the world agree to work together to decipher some circle-code the squid monsters gave to Humanity, which was the gift of their language.
which, i guess, will allow all humans to be able to see the future?
which doesn't seem like a gift at all but a giant cluster-fuck.
also, there was a B-story about the Ginger Linguist having a daughter in the future who will die as a teenager of some rare disease, but that doesn't really matter all that much, the end.

i liked Arrival but i would have liked it a whole lot more if it didn't get all wonky with being able to see the future, or whatever.
i feel like the trend in Hollywood these days is to make movies that are 85% hard science fiction and 15% total bullshit.
i really like theorizing about how first-contact with an alien race would go and i enjoyed watching that part of the movie, but then they had to bollix it up with day-dreamy bullshit.
it wasn't as bad as, say, Intersteller where it turns out the secret to humanity being a multi-planetary species is The Power Of Love, or whatever, but it was still silly.
i guess if you squint at the Sapir–Whorf Hypothesis the plot can kinda-sorta make sense, but still, it was unnecessary.

for being good science fiction about the logistical problems of first contact but for gumming it all up with needless and distracting day-dreamy bullshit, Arrival earns a 7.8/10.

//[ab irato ad astra]
.

September 2017

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