Archive | January, 2017

Thoughts on Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

17 Jan

Despite the name (thanks, dad) I’d say I’m like most people when it comes to Star Wars: I enjoy it. Enjoy the Lego sets. Sort of aware of all the old EU stuff that’s now become obsolete. Never watched the Clone Wars or Rebels cartoons – but aware they exist. Was pleased with The Force Awakens, but isn’t going to say it’s the best thing evaaar. Saddened by the recent loss of Carrie Fisher, though my thoughts and prayers go to her family. We’ll get to thoughts on her later on in this post.

Can’t say I hated the prequels, but Star Wars wasn’t my childhood the way I can see it being some people’s.

I’m not opposed to supplementary movies, but I think while I don’t mind expanding on the universe in new stories, to leave the classics alone. I was very sceptical about Rogue One in general, because I had questions like, “Even if we pretend Princess Leia isn’t involved until the last minute – what about the staff on the Death Star?” I’m not a purist, but, what about Tarkin?

To add to the drama, people on FB mentioned they were conflicted to taking some of their kids because, while it was a Star Wars movie, it felt darker. Darker wasn’t the word I’d use to describe Rogue One, I’d use the term mature. But then I decided to watch A New Hope again. Yeah, I’d say it’s not a darker tone – the original Star Wars isn’t gory, but doesn’t shy away from adult ideas, albeit ones simplified.

Mature stories, on the contrast, explores what’s going on and are generally less idealized. From the writer’s perspective, the path of those who aren’t the chosen ones – and while obviously the hero still needs to eat, usually the focus is on the fate of the world, not the fall out because of mutiny because people are losing heart. I’m not saying you can’t enjoy something that’s aimed at kids – when you’re more discerning, you may question what was going on throughout the galaxy for the Empire’s 20-year reign, but you don’t over think it.

I saw Rogue One with family, and my seven year old nephew said he really liked it, he also asked me questions about what was going on, who was that guy and why didn’t they just X. He doesn’t do that when we’re watching The Hobbit movies or other Star Wars films. I think sometimes people mistake complicated for good – but I find that complications can slow down a story and, while it might be accurate to history, as creatures who really like stories, we want the motivations to be clear, and have a certain expectation as how we want the story to go. Hercules can fall during a trial, but not forever.

Was Rogue One entertaining and well done? Based on one viewing as a casual fan, I think so. No complaints about special effects, costume and setting, as well as casting. I suppose I could go on about the ideology portrayed – but it is my experience that when you have a project that goes across to different writers, that will be a reflection of what they thought of the media as well as how it relates to the world about them, as well as a reflection of social issues that pervade our society. That being said, you could tell it was handled by people who loved the source material.

Certain people, at least online, were complaining about bringing women into powerful roles in the forefront of the conflict, whereas the story is essentially a male fantasy.  I would protest this, because I thought Jyn was passive and more or less along for the ride and, while the mission happened because of her, that Cassian was a more interesting and relatable character. While we’re on the topic of characters, I’d argue that Cassian and K-2SO, among the heroes, had the best personalities (I also liked Orson’s portrayal) but, like the planets we got exposed to, it seemed to be throwing a lot in very quickly. Fine for me – but my nephew won’t catch nuances. I know it’s hard to go back when the original movie is going to be 40 this year – and if this wasn’t part of the Star Wars canon, I wouldn’t say boo. But Rogue One seems like it’s there for the older kids who already know what sort of film to expect.

I’ve said it before – there have always been female fans of the traditional “boy” genre. I don’t worry about representation as much now as I did when I was a kid, but that’s because I write my own, and often times it feels that when you’re introducing a heroine, there’s the need to make her ‘badass’ or whatever – it can feel shoe-horned in. Not saying don’t do it, but I can like something and still think about it critically. Despite Rey and Padme being added to the Canon (as well as Phasma and now Jyn) I still think Leia Organa is the best female character in that series, so I suppose I should move on to the CGI aspect.

Carrie Fisher has recently passed away, whereas the character of Tarkin way portrayed by Peter Cushing, who passed away in the 1990’s. Especially to the family of Fisher, it seems cruel, but people are talking about the politics of what they’re going to do, especially considering Leia Organa is an iconic character and was set to play a major part in the new Star Wars Trilogy, with VII out last year and VIII in post-production, apparently Fisher had all of her scenes filmed.

Honestly, one of the concerns I had with prequels and that is to explain away the appearance of characters who would have aged. Given that there are enough people to look the part with makeup and a bit of CGI, it’s not that we can’t have someone who really looks like the character running about. It’s that their being portrayed – especially an iconic character, like Leia Organa – by someone else. Especially when that actor recently passed away.

A question like this came up in WWC this summer, when someone asked us on a panel about series, “What do you do if you realized you killed a character you needed?” I say you improvise, and there’s no reason the show has to stop because you realize you needed Billy. Obviously, the character of Leia could be portrayed by someone else, or CGI, or she can explained away. You get criticized regardless of what direction you take, because there’s no way you can make everyone happy. Writers bring their own biases into a story, but so do the viewers.

I can’t answer this, but I can’t say that I like the idea of CGI Leia or Tarkin, although Leia’s role was greatly reduced and had less than a minute of screen time in Rogue One. Tarkin fooled my dad, but I say bring in a live actor, and if it’s not like a prequel where they must appear in a future episode, give the character a fitting farewell and respect the actor’s legacy in which they brought to the screen a character that we could relate to.

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So Long, 2016

2 Jan

Hope you and yours are having lovely holidays– as for me, I’m working and looking forward to four days off following tonight’s shift. Let’s just say, locally, we got a heck of a lot of snow, with apparently more on its way tonight.

I didn’t post online my goals for 2016, and artistically there weren’t anything specific other than continue with writing and drawing, and I did get quite a bit accomplished. Absolutely zero feedback on the younger YA and Middle Grade stuff I’ve written, but I did sell another novel to Champagne Books. As soon as they get back to me on the Gothic Steampunk novel, I send in the next book in the series. Don’t want to flood the editors, but I think my goal is to get these YA steampunk books out. I just finished the second book, written because I wanted to go deeper into the characters, several of which I felt weren’t as developed in the first book as they could have been.

The nice thing is this year I paid off my student loans. I have saved up and am officially able to go and look for a house. I still have a bit of consumer debt, but I need to take a vacation – even if it’s not going any where, but I am thinking that I have a passport, just have a bit more stuff to do around here, and then I will use up my equivalent of two weeks and go somewhere – I was going to go last year, but the winter was honestly extremely mild. I have to figure out what I want, and I’m supposed to start editing my new novel under contract next month. My best guess is I should go away for about a week, and take another week off to get the editing done.

So did I get as much as I wanted accomplished in 2016? Nope – honestly, it feels like I’ve become a bit boring. I have been working a heck of a lot to get ahead, and honestly, sometimes I wonder for what. It would be nice to take up a martial art or do archery more regular or even get back into my high angle rescue stuff. The Rec Center on the base has opened up a climbing wall, so I’m hoping that I can go and get some certification in repelling (I have totally lost my gloves from when I was in fire college, my ziplining instructor certification is mucho expired). The other goal, after I find a house, is get me a kayak. Which is strange, because this summer I think I kayaked the least since my dad made his purchase about three summers prior. Then again, the OT has dried up since November and I really can’t complain as I’m enjoying the seemingly ‘normal’ hours. Then I accepted a shift tonight. Weee. Ah well – it’s in MacGregor so I’ll probably get a chance to write and edit. I’ll figure out what sort of personal reading challenge I should do, as right now I’m listening to non-fiction audiobooks and then another non-fiction book on loan.