Tag Archives: Alan Tudyk

Star Wars: Rogue One

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If you guessed that I have at last seen Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, readers, then you have good deduction skills. Yes, I saw Rogue One a day late and a dollar short. But after the less-than-exciting The Force Awakens, I was a little leery of any Star Wars fare.

I enjoyed the trailers for the film – I even reposted one from borg.com here at Thoughts on the Edge of Forever. I wanted to see Rogue One. I wanted to like it. But I did not want to spend money on a film I would later wish I had not paid good cash to see. So I waited and saw it on DVD.

It was a great movie, and it belongs right up there with the original Star Wars trilogy, in my opinion. Yes, there were a few small things about it that I did not like – Leia’s CGI face was kind of scary, and I never got to see the Ghost escape the Battle of Scarif. But since Hera and Chopper have appeared in Lego Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures, I guess our Rebel band got through the battle safe and sound.

On the whole, the film was a hit with this viewer. Cassian and Jyn came off as sullen more often than not, but their supporting cast more than made up for this. Chirrut Îmwe, Baze Malbus, K2-SO, and Bodhi Rook were great fun. I would have to say that Îmwe was my favorite. From his Force mantra to his, “Are you kidding me? I’m blind!”, Îmwe was one lovable character. Yoda would have found him an apt pupil.

K2 would probably be my second favorite, partly because he is portrayed by actor Alan Tudyk, the pilot of Serenity in Joss Whedon’s Firefly series. The other reason I liked him is because he came off perfectly as a sassy former Imperial droid you could not force to behave. Despite that tough shell, though, he also proved to have a soft side, such as when he apologized for smacking Cassian and when Jyn handed him a blaster in the Imperial base on Scarif. And watching him kill Stormtroopers was a scream – for them more so than for me!

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Baze was my third favorite and the perfect counterpoint to Îmwe. Where Îmwe is the true believer despite all the evidence that calls for despair, Baze is the former believer who has become a cynic due to the heavy losses he has suffered since the Empire came to power. I have to admit, I really wish I could have his blaster mini-gun as well!

My fourth favorite would probably be Cassian. Raised in the Rebel Alliance, fighting the Empire from the (rather unbelievable) age of six, he is a Rebel assassin and spy. He also happens to hate most of his job. There is very little warmth in him at first; as I said above, he and Jyn tend to come off as grim for most of their time on screen. This is kind of irritating, which is why Îmwe and K2 are higher on my favorites’ list.

But considering that Cassian and Jyn have dealt with the Empire’s brutality and the often necessarily nasty tactics of rebelling against it, there is very little reason for either of them to smile or joke or be lighthearted. Îmwe and Baze have suffered losses at the Empire’s hands, but they have never had to compromise their moral compasses when fighting it. K2 is a droid built to kill, much like the Knights of the Old Republic’s HK-47, so he regards battle as just another day at the office. Bodhi is new to the Rebellion. He has also never stepped outside of the “law” prior to Galen Erso’s urging to defect to the Rebellion. Cassian and Jyn did not have any of these luxuries.

Jyn was not a bad character, though after a while I did become a little bored with her. I enjoyed the scene where, after her father has been killed and her Rebel escort has returned to the ship, she raises her hand – only for Îmwe to catch and hold it in the manner of a friend. He was silently reminding her not to return death for death, and I thought it was a very touching gesture. Yes, Cassian was going to kill her father. Yes, the Rebel Alliance bombed the base in order to kill him. But killing Cassian would not undo any of that, which is why Îmwe took her hand to stop her from losing her temper.

Finally, we come to the Battle of Scarif. What a fight! I loved every minute of the X-Wings zooming around and zapping TIE fighters to atoms. I have not winced, jerked, and bucked in my seat while watching a Star Wars battle since I was young and viewing A New Hope for the millionth time.

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Speaking of which, the reused footage of Red and Gold Leader from A New Hope was great. I almost squealed with delight as I recognized the actors. I could tell that the footage was original – I watched A New Hope almost as often as I watched 101 Dalmatians or Peter Pan when I was small. I made the trench run with Luke and the other Rebel fighters zillions of times, so I knew Red and Gold Leader very well by sight alone. Finding them in Rogue One was a treat!

The other wonderful – and amazing – thing about the Battle of Scarif was the land battle. As someone I know pointed out, the footage of the Rebels fighting in the jungle was reminiscent of the way American soldiers fought in the Vietnam War. The way the troop ships dropped Rebel fighters onto the beach was a parallel of the deployment of soldiers and Marines in the jungles of Vietnam, too. The Rebels charging across the beach resembled Marines running up the beach on Iwo Jima and the soldiers storming the beaches of France on D-Day, but the drops by the troop ships were unmistakably based on Vietnam deployments.

Some of the Rebels’ gear, too, resembled the uniforms used by American soldiers during Vietnam. Several of the unnamed Rebels’ helmets and jackets were the same style as Vietnam War helmets and uniforms used by American soldiers during that conflict. The door gunner shooting at the AT-AT Walkers was also a direct nod to Vietnam door gunners. I was proud to see these parallels. It is high time our Vietnam veterans were acknowledged like this and I think it is a compliment.

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Finally, no review of Rogue One would be complete if I did not mention the winks and nods the writers added to let us know that the cast of Star Wars Rebels lives beyond their fourth season. At least, Chopper, Hera, and the Ghost survive the series’ final season. When Cassian shows Jyn the force of Rebel assassins and spies he has collected to help her steal the Death Star’s plans, someone can be heard paging “General Syndulla” over the PA system. Hera Syndulla, captain of the Ghost and Phoenix Sqaudron’s fighters, is at some point raised to the rank of general during or after season four of the television series.

Chopper can also be seen by the keen-eyed when the Rebel radio operator charges out to speak to Senator Mon Mothma. This is after the Rogue One crew begins their attack on Scarif. I missed Chopper in the film, sadly, but I had already seen him on the Internet during one of the Rebels’ Recon episodes. And I did hear him grumbling while watching the film. Huzzah!

Just like Chopper, I also could not keep track of the Ghost for most of the space battle above Scarif. This upset me because I could not see if the Ghost had escaped before Darth Vader’s Star Destroyer arrived and began blasting the Mon Calamari carrier to bits. My friends went back to the battle scenes after we had finished the film and replayed them in slow motion so I could see the Ghost. (I have very kind, patient friends who put up with A LOT from me.) With the film slowed down I was able to see the Ghost in action for much of the fight. As in the television series, she was protecting the carrier in the fleet rather than swinging farther out into the battle with the star fighters.

However, we never get to see the Ghost jump to hyperspace before the Executor, Vader’s flagship, arrives. I am still a little upset by that, I admit; I would have liked to see them fly away from Scarif safely. But c’est la vie!

I was also not as impressed by Darth Vader’s “temper tantrum” aboard the Mon Cal cruiser, as others were. But I can just picture what some of the Rebel crewers had to say when the scene was over and the director called “Cut!”: “Killed by Darth Vader. BEST DAY EVER!!”; or “This is so going on my resume!”; and the perennial, “I feel fulfilled!”

All in all, Rogue One was just as good as I hoped it would be. I was bummed that the main cast died, so I do not think I will be watching it as often as I once watched A New Hope. But I did enjoy the film, and I do wish I had gone to theaters to see it on the big screen. Those, however, are minor quibbles. This was a great movie, and I highly recommend it to you, readers! So remember –

The Force will be with you, always!

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Spotlight: Ice Age – Sid

Today’s Spotlight! focuses on Sid, the Giant Sloth from the Ice Age films, specifically the first Ice Age movie. (I am not overly fond of the sequel Ice Age movies.)

Sid is presented as an annoying character that his own family cannot stand. In the first film, they get up early and begin migrating south, away from the frozen north, without him. Sid bewails his abandonment temporarily, then proceeds to begin migrating south by himself –

Only to get in trouble with a pair of rhinos.

Manfred the Mammoth and star of the show rescues Sid, who then starts following him around, irritating the already sour-tempered mammoth further by shortening his name to Manny and asking him some very personal questions. But Sid keeps up with Manny despite the growls and threats from the bigger animal. Manny tries his best to shake the bothersome sloth, but no dice.

Not long afterward, the two come upon a woman and her infant son in a freezing river. The woman pushes her baby toward Manny, who pulls the child onto dry land. Knowing her baby is safe; the worn-out woman allows the frigid water to carry her downstream. Sid, impressed by the moment, decides that they should return the infant to his “herd” – a group of humans with a camp on a nearby cliff top.

Manny absolutely refuses to help the human baby, stating he is “still trying to get rid of the last thing [he] saved” – Sid.

But the sloth is persistent, and he tries to return the baby to the humans on his own. That attempt fails miserably, and only the timely arrival of a saber tooth tiger, Diego, prevents the child from becoming a human pancake.

Manny then snatches the baby from the tiger, and Sid states that they are going to return the baby to his herd. Manny reluctantly agrees and the two climb the cliff (by a much safer route than Sid’s) only to find the humans have abandoned their camp in something of a hurry.

Throughout the rest of the film Sid continues to annoy both Manny and Diego. But at the same time he is irritating them, somehow Sid also manages to help his two companions grow. Manny and Diego both learn to forgive their perceived “enemy” – humanity – during the course of the film. But they would not have been prepared to forgive humanity if they had not been traveling with Sid.

Sid has a great many faults. He has so many, in fact, that his own flesh and blood has decided they will be better off without him. But Sid never holds this against them. He laments that his family has decided they can no longer put up with him, but he shrugs it off and keeps going. He later tells Diego, “Ah, you know me. I’m too lazy to hold a grudge.”

Too lazy? Say rather very forgiving. Sid takes a lot of abuse, verbal and physical, from a great many animals. But no matter the threats, indignations, or anger heaped on him, he simply lets it roll off his spirit like water off a duck’s back. He keeps on being his annoying, lovable self, and he never denies friendship to anyone – unless they are trying to eat him. Let’s face it; you cannot forgive someone for continually trying to do that!

I have a lot of work ahead of me with regard to forgiveness. Like most people, I find it hard to forgive. But I am trying, and if it took Manny and Diego a whole movie to let go of their anger, then I think I can learn to be forgiving. It might take me awhile, but I know it is not totally impossible. Ice Age and Sid were both pretty good demonstrations that forgiveness is possible, if we let it be possible.

Until next time!

The Mithril Guardian

Frozen – Let It Go

Let It Go

If you saw a post I wrote some time back which showed off a few of my favorite themes and songs from animated films and TV shows, then you know I enjoyed Disney’s Frozen. The movie has been a big hit, and while it may be getting more hype than it needs right now, it can rightfully find a place among the best movies ever made.

Part of the reason for this is its most popular song, Let It Go, sung by the film’s protagonist, Queen Elsa. Elsa begins to sing Let It Go when she decides not to stifle her cryokinetic powers any longer.  She experiments with her abilities for the first time in years, managing to make herself a huge, magnificent ice palace and a dress of fine frost and ice in a few moments. She declares she is no longer afraid of what she can do and casts her crown aside, choosing a life of hermitage away from others, so she will not hurt them.

Despite the song’s obviously triumphant tone and lyrics, I am skeptical that Elsa actually “threw off” her fear when she ditched her crown. If she had truly stopped being afraid of what she could do, why did Arendelle remain frozen up until Anna sacrificed herself to protect Elsa?

Yes, yes – the easy answer is that it was in the script. But I do not like easy answers with regard to stories; it is a rare tale that has an “easy” solution to a problem. And the “simplicity” of the dilemma is not necessarily related to how well a viewer/listener/reader can comprehend the story. Characters in stories react just like regular humans; when have we EVER made life easy for ourselves?

That is correct: we practically never do.

Elsa may have thought she gave up her fear, but I do not think she did. She gave up her terror of openly using her gifts, but she still viewed said gifts as a “curse,” recalling that the old troll who healed Anna had asked the King whether Elsa was “born with the power or cursed?”

Where Elsa once viewed her abilities as a gift, a power she could use to make her sister (and thereby herself) happy, she now views it only as something she wishes she did not have. Certainly, her bad experience of injuring her younger sister, however unwittingly, is partly to blame for this. But because of the old troll’s warning that “fear will be [her] enemy,” Elsa has grown to fear the power she once loved and controlled with relative ease.

And in this way fear is her enemy. It is not just the fear of her subjects, the Duke of Weselton, and Hans that is a threat to her. The biggest threat is her fear of her abilities. Her powers are so tightly tied to her emotional state that any strong emotion – love, fear, and anger – makes her powers react accordingly.  Love melts the snow, fear freezes her kingdom, and anger allows her to defend herself with the skill of a trained combatant.

So though she stops fearing the use of her powers, Elsa does not lose her fear of herself. She does not lose her fear of being a menace to society and to her own sister. This is why Arendelle remains a frozen kingdom, and only becomes colder and colder as Elsa’s terror mounts. Until Anna reminds her of how to let go of her fear, Elsa is unable to remove the snow and ice smothering her kingdom. Once she learns that she can in fact control her abilities; that they are in fact subject to her and not the other way around, does Elsa truly “Let It Go.”

This does not, in my opinion, make Let It Go any less of a great song. It may be a little premature in its setting in the film, but Elsa’s jubilation is more than somewhat premature! She thinks she is released when actually she is still shackled by her fear. Nevertheless, the song is enjoyable and a great piece of music to listen to when one can find the time.

So, readers, I will “let” you “go” until next time!

Later,

The Mithril Guardian