Thursday 15 December 2016

#RogueOne Movie Review - Be prepared, a lot of people are gonna die... #StarWars #Movies #Spoilers

Strap yourself in... or you might get shot as well.
By W D Nicolson - December 15, 2016

Soooooo many people die in Rogue One... not that you shouldn't expect it given where it sits in the Star Wars timeline - but from here on out - it's going to be Spoiler City in this Review.

You do not want to be in this cast Q&A if you want to make an appearance in any future Star Wars movies... though given how Rogue One brought people back from the dead and from advanced age with CGI - you can't rule it out completely.

So I went to see Rogue One last night and with a good 1 and a 1/2 hours sleep on my side - here's my review.


That is if you like Star Wars remotely and like me - was reared on watching the original trilogy over and over again on VHS - mainly for the battle scenes.

Because you get your fill and more in Rogue One. 

It's not a perfect film, it jumps all over the galaxy (yet thanks to movie magic hyperspace takes two seconds regardless of where the planet is relative to the other) - and probably lets itself down on a few fronts (more later) but as a whole - this is a very good Star Wars ride.

I'll just jump in with thoughts as they come to me - it won't be entirely linear but hopefully it gets the job done.

  • Darth Vader isn't in it nearly enough.
    • The Dark Lord of the Sith gets very little airplay and though the payoff at the end of the film when he goes to Youngling Kill Level on the Rebel Fleet Troopers is sensational - we only get one other taste of the bad dude and that's a little forced interaction with Director Krenic. More on Krennic in a sec but Vader could have been integral in this... as they made Grand Moff Tarkin. 
    • Yep, Tarkin is there in all his CGI glory - to the point where you aren't sure what you are watching - an actor looking like Peter Cushing or just a reconstructed face on a faceless actor. The voice is nailed by the voice actor but the CGI just can't quite get Cushing's calm but stern veneer right - it's just my view but the CGI makes it hard for the director to get the right angle on him - so you are always thinking he's just a little back from the screen... just an observation but geesh - it's Peter Cushing for all intents and purposes so full credit for basically pulling it off.
    • It should have been Vader vs Tarkin - the feeling out period before we saw Vader on Tarkin's leash in A New Hope - that said - Krennic is good. He's a little ocker (Australian for laid back - and yes the actor Ben Mendelsohn is an Aussie) for an Imperial officer but he's very good. He's a fun villain to watch battle the chain of command basically - and suffer at the end of the 'you are in fact dispensable' reality. 
    • The Vader/Krennic scene is nice to look at - as is the unveiling of Vader in a bacta tank surrounded by Imperial Royal Guards (on I'm guessing Mustafar) is cool but Krennic is too lippy for mine with Vader. Vader does his little force choke bit (which is the forced part for mine) but it's not a scene that has enough in it to suggest Krennic had to go to Vader direct. In short - Vader doesn't treat Krennic like his stool pigeon quite enough for Krennic to think he could get the Dark Lord on his side.
    • Anyhoo - Vader is good, James Earl Jones is better as the voice and the only thing I wanted to see more of from Vader is him dispatching the Admiral Ackbar knock-off and his crew in the command bridge (extended cut please?).
  • To Director Krennic - Mendelsohn is excellent - he's just nice and evil and wants to get stuff done. The opening scene isn't great (feels stretched out - that is when he captures Galen Erso and kills his wife) - but it does what it has to. Bit like Krennic all film. He's a factor in every scene - I especially loved him going toe to toe with Tarkin for control of the project - a sub-plot they got 100% right - Tarkin swooping in and taking all the credit just fits so well with an Imperial Governor. 
    • Krennic's Death Squad or whatever they are just look good and get some payoff during the film but it's not like Krennic isn't willing to do the dirty work himself. 
    • My main criticism is as above - he's a little rough around the edges for an Imperial as we've come to know them. That said - to build that weapon etc - maybe that's what was needed. If I'm writing it (which I clearly wouldn't be) I'd have built a little entourage for him - even if it was the engineers he kills off who worked with Galen. Just seems like a massive job for one guy to handle... That said - he does his job as a commander very well in the Scariff command tower. He's just fun to watch go about his business.
  • Finally on Tarkin - just the right amount of him. I particularly like how he will use anyone to further his own goal/career - and when he targets Scariff he's taking pure joy in ending Krennic's existence and the Imperial collateral doesn't concern him at all - there's always more troops. 

What about the good guys you say? 
  • Jyn Erso is good. She's not great but she's not meant to be - she's the spoke in the Rebellion wheel and she gets to stand up and lead when she needs to. Perhaps the thing I like most about her character is she isn't running headlong into all of this - she is watching out for #1 the whole way (and then the rescue of her father) but it isn't until she's on top of the comm tower facing Krennic does she consider her own mortality. There was always a way out is how Felicity Jones seemed to play her - and I rate that highly. 
  • The band of merry men are all serviceable - Donnie Yen's character is the best of the humans (I had to google to find out his name beyond 'the blind guy' / Chirrut Îmwe) and coming in a close second is Jiang Weng's Baze Malbus (again thanks google). They work off each other really well and their dual death scenes are spot on. Oh yeah... I mentioned the deaths.
  • The Imperial Pilot character (Bodhi Rook - thanks again google) always seemed to have more to give - though that brain reading alien part was a total waste of a cool character idea - and gave it to us very late in the film. His death again - well done.
  • The droid is there to deliver the laughs and does so but so much so that you don't expect anything but one liners... it isn't until K-2SO (I remember the K part) gets blasted away defending the databank section that you get another reason to like him... well apart from the stiff arm on Jyn in the scene on Obiwan planet... spell it out. Wobani - c'mon Disney - sometimes you can be too clever. Biggest credit I can give the droid is you don't consider it CGI for the most part - it moves way too well for a Star Wars droid that we saw in any of the Original Trilogy but it's well executed. The character is about the only one by the end of the film you could bring back for a future new trilogy film.
  • Cassian Andor (all I heard when his name was said was Lando Calrissian - again try harder Disney!) is probably the best of the good guys in terms of depth of character. He's conflicted - and written deliberately so... which makes you wonder why if you go down that road of 'why do you fight reflection' - then why lazily call a planet after Obi-Wan Kenobi... - and his introduction of killing his informant to save time is seriously cold and unexpected. That said he does get in touch with his feelings when he doesn't shoot Galen but anyhoo... turns out he like Krennic can take a blaster at close range and live - so he's a heck of a spy! The fact he doesn't kiss Jyn at the end before they get obliterated is a nice show of restraint... by the same writers who named a planet after Obi-Wan!
  • The dozens of Rebel Troopers who get fried... were fun to watch go out in a blaze of glory. Though the army pith helmets were too recognisable to 'reality' to not look like American liberators. 
  • Admiral Raddus (Ackbar's cousin) is good enough... though you are left thinking is that Ackbar before a hot bath because hearing character's actual names is always a challenge in this film. I like the fact he takes action and his flagship is a nice addition to the Mon Calamari Cruiser look. Though it doesn't appear to shoot much at all... I would have liked to have seen his death be played out in the first release but figure they have to have something in mind for the extended cut. 
  • The other Rebel officers are ho-hum - the General Draven guy is a waste of time and is there for one purpose - prove that even the good guys have bad guys on their side. The X-Wing general is semi-interesting then gets killed a little easily but a pathetic attempt to sell more toys with yet another new TIE design... Mon Mothma is good as she can be in what she's given, and it is good to see Bail Organa get some meaningful airtime this movie. 
  • There's a lot of nameless Imperial officers - which I like, just wish they'd CGI'd Admiral Motti and General Tagge from the Death Star meeting room (maybe they did?). Because when they inserted the Gold and Red Leader into the battle at the end (and I think there was a sneaky Biggs extra walk by?) - I was genuinely chuffed. They probably went to the well a few too many times with old footage recut but it was a nice touch - kudos. 
  • What else can I blab on about... clearly I've run around the place here. Ahhh yes... Saw Gerrera - average. Just not that interesting I'm afraid - the discount Darth Vader suit doesn't add anything and they never killed off his chief henchman which I thought was weird given we got plenty of closeups on him. The whole split from the Rebellion thing wasn't unpackaged like it could have been and that brain alien part was as I mentioned before - a total waste of a scene. 
  • Galen Erso - okay but lacks punch... maybe a scene where he discovers how the power the weapon with the Kyber crystal (again a waste of a concept because it's never really proven as integral - and is if you are a nerd like me - old school canon) and that's when he decides to put the failsafe in would have been good. His death is a little meh but the way he's used by Krennic on that platform in the rain was good movie fodder - of course Krennic was going to kill the engineers mate!

Let's wrap up the best scenes and get out of here:
  • Any scene in space or with an X-Wing. They are just the best.
  • The battle over Scariff at the end is pure video game gravy - though why the Star Destroyers don't make mincemeat of the Rebel Fleet (when Vader's Star Destroyer does the moment it arrives) is a bit weak. The hammerhead Corvette scene is cool - if a little - where did all the TIE Fighters go who could've shot it up before it rammed etc... 
  • Scariff on ground fighting is superb - the AT-ATs are great to watch in action. 
  • Really like the look of Gerrera's temple base - we're back in Jabba's palace and I loved it. 
  • Death Star wasn't overly showcased beyond the control room again - just me but I'd have liked to have seen a tiny homage to the trash compactor like in The Force Awakens... 
  • The street fight on Jedha was excellent - again they nailed the fighting element in this one. 
And of course - Vader going to town in the corridors on the Rebel flagship as he tried to get the plans back.

That was worth the price of admission alone.

What did you make of the film and or any of my copious amounts of randomised notes?

As for a rating out of 5? 

3.5 approaching 4 stars.

Go see it kids.

NEW Episode shortly!
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Wednesday 14 December 2016

The wait is nearly over for #RogueOne + Bonus #StarWars Death Count

A new Star Wars film every year? Yes please!
By W D Nicolson - December 14, 2016

The wait is almost over Star Wars nerds and nerdettes... Rogue One drops in Australia in about 7 hours from now and yours truly will be amongst the fanatics who see the film as it debuts at 12:01am Thursday. 

The wait this time hasn't been remotely as hard as the wait before Episode VII (The Force Awakens) but because JJ Abrams didn't stuff that up - I don't think it is a reach to suggest that everyone is genuinely just happy there's another dose of Star Wars on the way, rather than full of anxiety that Star Wars could get another dud added to saga. 

Will it be perfect? Probably not.

Will it be good? Hard to believe it won't be because of where it sits in the story cycle - it's set up to be rich and tasty.

And that's the challenge Disney has had since taking over - make any of the new films good, even if they don't really have to make any of them great. 

Now George Lucas might have dropped the ball in a galactic way with the prequels but at least we had more Star Wars - and Disney got a free kick or three as a result. And the bonus was The Force Awakens went closer to the great level of good rather than just satisfactory. 

So we get a bunch of Rebels, another Death Star (well the original one but you get the point), an Imperial suit and of course, the real bonus - Darth Vader.

What will Vader do in Rogue One? No idea yet, the trailers have only hinted at his involvement - basically he's been shown turning slightly and walking like he's desperately in need of a bathroom... 

But he'll do something! 

And that alone is a good enough reason to get along to the cinema for a viewing. As with any prequel - we know how it 'ends' so admittedly I go into this film not overly concerned with the longevity of the Rebels in the film (probably the biggest challenge for the director/script - will we get invested enough in the characters that pretty much all have a used by date of film's end on them from the first time we get introduced) - but I think that's not something that would deter people from going along.

But the by-product of their roles suggest we'll see a lot of 'meaningful' deaths on screen - which if you list the notable/collateral deaths on film in the original trilogy you get a list this long (and is surely incomplete):

A New Hope:
Rebel Soldiers - Stormtroopers
Rebel Commander - Darth Vader.
Stormtrooper who kindly set to stun - Princess Leia.
Uncle Owen/Aunt Beru - Stormtroopers.
Cantina Thug - Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Greedo - Han Solo.
Alderaan - Grand Moff Tarkin.
Imperial Detention Officer - Luke Skywalker/Han Solo (not sure who shot first here).
Death Star Stormtroopers - Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, Chewbacca.
Obi-Wan Kenobi - Darth Vader.
TIE Fighter Pilots as Falcon escapes - Han Solo/Luke Skywalker.
Rebel Pilots (Porkins/Gold Squadron/Red 10/Red Leader/Biggs) - TIE Fighters/Darth Vader.
Grand Moff Tarkin and all those Death Star contractors - Luke Skywalker.

The Empire Strikes Back:
Tauntaun - Wampa.
Tauntaun - No jumper.
Wampa - Luke Skywalker.
Probe Droid - Han Solo.
Dak/Zev - Imperial AT-ATs/General Veers.
Rebel Snow Soldiers - Imperial AT-ATs.
Imperial AT-AT - Wedge/Jansen/Luke Skywalker.
Snowtroopers who were just trying to setup a tripod - Han Solo/Chewbacca.
TIE Fighter Pilots - Han Solo's flying/Asteroids.
Imperial Star Destroyer Captain - Asteroid.
Mynock - Han Solo.
Cave Darth Vader - Luke Skywalker.
Captain Needa - Darth Vader.
Stormtroopers - Princess Leia, Chewbacca, Lando Calrissian.

Return of the Jedi:
Tatooine rat - Jabba's Guard 'Dog'.
Jabba's Dancer - Rancor/Jabba.
Gamorrean Guard - Rancor/Jabba.
Rancor - Luke Skywalker.
Jabba's Skiff Henchmen - Luke Skywalker/Sarlacc.
Boba Fett - Han Solo/Sarlacc.
Jabba - Princess Leia.
Jabba's Entourage on Sail Barge - Luke Skywalker.
Yoda - Sleep.
Biker Scout Stormtroopers - Han Solo, Chewbacca, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia.
Rebel Pilots - Imperial Pilots.
Rebel Star Cruiser - Death Star/Emperor.
Ewoks/Rebel Soldiers/Stormtroopers/Imperial Officers - see left also Han Solo, Princess Leia, Chewbacca.
Admiral Piett/Super Star Destroyer - A-Wing Pilot Bill.
Death Star Shield Base - Han Solo.
Emperor - Darth Vader.
Darth Vader - Emperor... though Luke Skywalker removed his mask so... 
Death Star and even more contractors this time - Lando Calrissian with an assist from Wedge Antilles.

Final Tally*... Luke Skywalker outdoes Daddy V for total kills - even if you don't take into account the first Death Star. And Empire was the nicest of all the movies death count wise... 

* Truth be told there's gotta be a YouTube video in the above... and he presto (language warning) here is one below:

So yeah a LOT of people carked it in the original trilogy... of the above however maybe a dozen are 'important or memorable' characters.

Anyhoo... that took a while to collate from memory - and it appears now I could have just watched the clip above...

Bring on Rogue One tonight - review Thursday morning!

PS. Here is my The Force Awakens review from a year ago... yes I loved it.

NEW Episode shortly!
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Tuesday 13 December 2016

New #NOTTheFootyShow Podcast this week - Live from Brisvegas! #NRL

NOT The Footy Show heads to Brisbane!
NRL Podcast...
By W D Nicolson - December 13, 2016

Two years ago NTFS recorded Episode 152 in the palatial lounge room of the Duncan residence in Redcliffe - recapping the 2014 NRL Season. 

The results were joe average as always but there's only been two episodes recorded in the time since that show, and it appears the stars have aligned to allow Matthew Duncan and Warrick Nicolson to reunite for another NRL Podcast this Thursday in Brisbane.

The pair are heading to the Australia v Pakistan Test Match at the Gabba so we will be taking advantage of the catchup and will be going live on our Facebook Page during Day 1 of the Test.

We will be talking footy as always but are happy to answer any of your questions. Simply post them to our FB page or Tweet us @NRLTweet and we'll answer all of them (even if there are none).

And if you'll be at the Test - send us a note and we'll catch up!

Looking forward to it!

NEW Episode coming Friday!
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Monday 12 December 2016

Steve Smith wins the internet... the Raven not the Australian Captain. #NFL #NRL #Cricket

Steve Smith wins... everything
National Football League...
By W D Nicolson - December 12, 2016

Yup, that's Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith rocking up to a mid-week presser in a Yoda onesie.
A photo posted by Baltimore Ravens (@ravens) on

Steve Smith is Yoda.

Yoda is Steve Smith.

Proof - NFL pressers don't even need a good soundbite to be relevant. Heck I didn't even listen to this presser but felt compelled to share it!

Over to you NRL players... now given I've recently ended up a three year stint running Social Media for the NRL, I'm fairly confident in saying I didn't see this in Rugby League... but I would've been all over it if we did!

How good!
PS. Best Yoda costume on the market in Austraila right now 

NEW Episode coming Friday!
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