After The Last Jedi

Well, The Last Jedi certainly did have a different, non-Star-Wars feel to it through much of it, but I liked it.


– – – SPOILERS – – –


I’m still digesting the movie, but here are some thoughts:

Snoke: I didn’t really like Snoke as a villain in The Force Awakens.  However, while watching The Last Jedi, the character really grew on me. I ended up liking the character so much that I’m a little upset that they killed him off.

Poe: I’m glad Poe got more of a focus in this film.  I felt he got the short end of the stick in TFA.

Finn: Finn was almost a secondary character in this film.  You could remove all of his scenes from the movie and it would have no real effect on the end product. It was a little disappointing.  I really thought they were going to kill him off at the end.  That would have been a pretty bold film-making move.  Alas, he is robbed of a heroic sacrifice.

Rey: Again, Rey ends up being great.

Kylo Ren: I was please that Kylo saw more character development in this film.  The character had great “story” potential in TFA, and a lot of it is realized in this film.

Hux: Not much happening with Hux, which was all right.  He was entertaining enough for the bits he was in.

Leia: Leia’s few scenes were all right, but I felt the whole “coming back from the dead” thing was kind of lame.  Even though that was all done before Carrie Fisher died, I couldn’t help but feel like Leia’s apparent on-screen death and resurrection was in bad taste.  I know that’s not a fair judgment, however.

Luke: I really like what they did with Luke.  The whole “failed master” thing was a refreshing change.  Hamill did a masterful job.

Others:

  • Chewbacca gets a couple of good scenes, but he’s out of the picture for the most part.
  • The three main droids all see reduced roles, too.
  • I liked the new Vice Admiral Holdo character, played by Laura Dern. It sucks that they killed her off.
  • Benicio Del Toro’s character, DJ, was great.  I’d love to see more of his character.
  • I liked the few First Order officer characters with speaking roles, especially the captain of the new Dreadnought ship.

One new main character which I haven’t listed yet is Rose.  I actually have a fair number of gripes with this character.  I just did not like this new character, even from the first few still images I saw of her before the movie.  At first it was just an unfair dislike just because of her haircut (an unfair criticism, I know), so I kept an open mind for the movie.  I even started off liking the character a little at the beginning of the movie, but that gradually faded.

Rose and Finn’s part of the story were entirely unnecessary.  In fact, it totally felt like the movie was written without them in mind at first, then they were hastily written into the story after it was complete — Finn being added in because the script writer just forgot about him, and Rose being added in solely to appeal to the growing market in China.  It didn’t help that the character was so clichéd, either.

I don’t care that the character of Rose was played by an Asian actress; it’s just painfully obvious that that’s the reason Disney added the character to the movie (a similar thing happened with Rogue One, but at least we got two awesome characters out of that).  Seriously, stop writing in characters for their race just so you can pretend you don’t care about race.

It also felt like half the time Rose’s character was CGI and/or had her voice dubbed over.  That was particularly jarring.  I don’t know if this is just my mind playing tricks on me or what.  A similar thing happened in Rogue One with the character of Baze Malbus in one scene.  I don’t know if the filmmakers are using CGI to “fix” issues with acting, lighting, or whatever in post, similar to the way Lucas was editing together the performances for different actors from different takes to make one “ideal” take in the Prequels.

I felt most of the space battles were pretty lackluster.  Some of that may be due to the fact that I saw the movie in 3D (due to lack of options).  Dogfighting scenes in these movies are ruined by 3D: everything looks muddied and blurry.

The ramming of the Raddus into the First Order’s flagship, the Supremacy, was particularly spectacular.  This was one of the best scenes in all the Star Wars movies combined.  Even when it became obvious what was going to happen, it was still shocking.  It was just a masterful piece of film-making. You could actually feel the entire theater’s collective jaw dropping when it happened, which is something I haven’t felt in a theater experience before.  For those few seconds people were left speechless — the only sound the odd person’s voice being able to make was a gasp.

Some people complain about the comedy, but I thought it was all right.  I was worried at first with Poe and Hux’s interaction at the beginning (“I can hear you, can you hear me?  Is he hearing me?”); if the movie had had that tone throughout then it would have been an awful, awful movie.  In hindsight, it’s similar to Poe’s humor at the beginning of TFA.

There’s still more to say about the film, but I’m just tired of typing.  Again, I enjoyed it, and I’ll see it in the theater again.  I’d rate it maybe a B-.

Snowtrooper Progress

My snowtrooper costume is nearing completion. At this point I have most of the weathering done. I still need to weather the duster, pants, and belt packs and then touch up the armor pieces and webbing and whatnot.

Once I have all the weathering done and after doing a final check over everything, I will then submit photos for membership into the 501st Legion. After that I’ll rig up the electronics inside the suit (i.e. the voice changer and helmet fans).

I still might try to come up with a solution for the problem of not being able to hear well inside the helmet. I also have an idea for a cooling system that will help make the costume more bearable should I need to wear it indoors for an extended period of time, like at a convention or something.

The costume will be done this winter.

I Flew an X-wing Today!

I was at my brother’s place today and got to try the Star Wars: Battlefront – X-wing VR demo on his PS4. It was incredible!

Here’s a video of my play-through of the demo (The first seven minutes or so are just me getting used to being in a virtual world with an X-wing starfighter – jump to about 8:00 to see the start of the game):

It’s disappointing that there’s nothing more to the demo than one simple mission. There’s really no reason why the demo could not have had an “infinite play” mode.

Sadly, there appears to be no news of any actual full game like this being developed.

Still, I’m sure someday I’ll be able to fly a properly simulated X-wing fighter — there’s just too much money to be had in selling such a game.

Snowtrooper Update

Progress on my snowtrooper costume has been very slow these past few months. However, the largest hurdle has been overcome, and things should hopefully be picking up speed.

I painted the details on the backpack with enamel paint. It still needs a little touching up here and there, but it’s mostly good to go.

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Pants have also been purchased.  I had to go to a specialty uniform store to get the right kind of pants without a zipper or side pockets.

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The thing that stalled progress for the longest time was the duster.

A few months ago I went to my parent’s place to get my mom to help me with the sewing.  I had purchased a pattern for a simple coat that was pretty close to what I needed.  I figured we could start with that and make any minor adjustments as required.

Unfortunately the pattern was just a bit too complicated.  We realized the duster would actually be pretty simple to make if we just made a sort of plain shirt and sewed a skirt onto it.  So, I cut up a t-shirt to act as a template for cutting the real cloth in order to get the right dimensions, and we (well, mostly my mom) sewed it all together.

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Several hours, many broken threads, and one busted sewing machine needle later we had a finished duster. Sadly, the first duster didn’t turn out quite right.  The skirt was too short, the sleeves too loose, and we discovered the front flaps could have been done a but better.

A second attempt was made about two months later.  This time all the shortcomings were corrected.  I also bought tougher thread, and we used velcro strips that didn’t have a sticky backing, which is what caused so many headaches the first time.

The end result of this second attempt was perfect!

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The most difficult part of the costume — the long, flowing coat — is now done.

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Rogue One

I saw Rogue One last night.  I had watched a couple of spoiler-free reviews beforehand which had rated the movie as “good, not great” and a letter grade of “B”, so I didn’t go into it with high expectations, but, personally, I was completely blown away by how good it was.  It was amazing!

SPOILERS AHEAD!

I’ve been trying to think of a reason not to rate this movie a 10 out of 10, and the only thing I feel is a legitimate gripe that I have with the movie is the CGI Tarkin (and, to a lesser degree, CGI Leia).  I don’t think it’s bad enough to knock my rating of the movie down by 10% from a 10 to a 9, though.

The pacing for the movie was great.  It did not feel like a typical Hollywood movie.  The plot moved along swiftly with no lulls or tiresome parts. The tone is also very different in this movie, and you feel it right away when you are immediately dropped into the movie without the traditional title and opening crawl.  It feels like “Star Wars for adults”.

Rogue One is definitely a war movie (as compared to all the other Star Wars movies, which are more fantasy-adventure movies).  During its development I had heard the filmmakers touting the film as being more serious, but I went into it with a little skepticism (because, come on — Star Wars is a movie about space wizards for goodness’ sake).  That skepticism was eliminated pretty early on in the movie when one of the main “good guys” ends a clandestine meeting in an alley by abruptly murdering his contact.

There are just so many great things about this movie.  I’ll just list a few of the things I really liked:

  • All the main characters were interesting and enjoyable to watch.
  • So much shooting and explosions and space ships fighting and space ships getting shot and space ships tumbling around on fire and space ships crashing into things!
  • The brief cameos from obscure characters, like “Dutch” Vander (Gold Leader) and Garven Dreis (Red Leader) who pilot a Y-wing and X-wing, respectively, both in this movie and the original Star Wars movie from nearly 40 years ago.
  • The very “British WWII military” look and feel of many of the officers on both sides (General Merrick — Blue Leader — is a great example).
  • Smashed X-wings “skating” across an energy shield.
  • The restoration of the “mystical” aspect of the Force (i.e. no stupid midichlorians), thanks in large part to the character of Chirrut (who is awesome).
  • An explanation for why the Death Star has a tiny hole in it that will cause the entire thing to blow up if someone shoots a single torpedo into it.
  • The largest Star Wars space battle ever (the Battle of Scarif).
  • Y-wings!  Y-wings making bombing runs!  Y-wings firing ion torpedoes!  I didn’t think Y-wings would ever get any love ever again, but they did!
  • Darth Vader’s literal “horror scene” near the end of the movie (one of the rebel troopers trapped in the corridor pounding on the window of the jammed door — begging for help from onlookers on the other side — was fantastically unsettling).

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I really hope the rest of the upcoming stand-alone Star Wars movies end up this good.

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