Tag Archives: Death Star

‘Rogue One’ gives me a new hope

Updated below (on Thursday, January 5, 2017)

Right about now we all could use a new “Star Wars” movie that doesn’t suck. “Rogue One’s” diverse cast of heroic characters (see the movie’s publicity image below) has the white supremacists in a frothy lather, which is yet another good reason to see it.

Image result for Rogue One cast

With Darth Donald furiously filling his administration with hell’s best and brightest — and our only hope rebel electors who halt the construction of the Death Star and thus save the republic when they meet in the state capitals on Monday — it’s great that we have a new “Star Wars” movie to look to.

“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” the first live-action “Star Wars” film that isn’t part of the ongoing nine-film series (which has hits and misses), opens on Friday, and it looks like it’s going to be a worthy “Star Wars” movie, unlike last year’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

I like that “Force Awakens” features a heroine instead of a hero (British actress Daisy Ridley as Rey did a great job), and that it is somewhat diverse, with black British actor John Boyega as rebel stormtrooper Finn and Latino Oscar Isaac as rebel pilot Poe Dameron. (Boyega and Isaac also did a great job, and, like many, many others, I’ve always had something for Isaac…)

But “Force Awakens,” although acted well enough and technically sound, of course, given its big budget, suffers significantly from being a brazen rehash of the “Star Wars” movies that came before it, replete with a third Death Star (well, OK, it’s a weaponized planet, but in essence it’s a third Death Star), another climactic light-saber duel, and, of course, the climactic destruction of that third Death Star.

“Force Awakens” also features a geriatric Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford as a geriatric Princess Leia and Han Solo, which didn’t give me a warm and fuzzy sense of nostalgia as much as it gave me the sense that the fucking baby boomers just won’t get off of the stage, no matter how long it has been since they wore out their welcome. (At least Han Solo dies in the movie…)

Perhaps most sinfully, “Force Awakens'” “villain,” Darth Vader descendant Kylo Ren (the son of Han Solo and Leia, he is played by Adam Driver), isn’t actually bad-ass at all, but is a whiny little bitch (much like Darth Donald). And that Kylo Ren is just a bad Darth Vader knock-off only emphasizes the fact that “Force Awakens” is just a bad “Star Wars” knock-off…

Oh, sure, it’s great to watch Rey kick Kylo Ren’s ass, but the whole fucking premise that Leia and Han Solo had a son who grew up to try to emulate Granddad Vader is just stupid. As is that third Death Star.

“Rogue One,” though, looks promising. It’s a more immediate prequel to 1977’s “Star Wars: A New Hope”* than was 2005’s “Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith,” which is the best of the first-three-numbered “Star Wars” episodes of 1999, 2002 and 2005 that were made after the first three released “Star Wars” episodes of 1977, 1980 and 1983. (Indeed, “Sith” is the only of those three proactive episodes worth watching, really.)

We already pretty much know the plot of “Rogue One”: Rebels to the Empire manage to steal the (first) Death Star plans so that the rebels then can destroy it. But while that back story was mentioned** in “A New Hope,” it never was fleshed out (recall that “A New Hope” begins with Princess Leia safeguarding the Death Star plans with the [an]droid R2-D2, who/which then jettisons in an escape pod with sidekick C-3PO), and very apparently “Rogue One” fleshes out that back story.

That “Rogue One” takes on fresher (albeit pre-established) material rather than simply rehashing old material, as “Force Awakens” did, is a big draw to me, as is the fact that I was a “Star Wars” fan at nine or 10 years old, replete with action figures and plastic toy replicas of the vehicles. (The fact that my mother cavalierly bought me a regular TIE fighter instead of the Darth Vader TIE fighter that I’d very specifically and repeatedly requested for one Christmas [a true story, unfortunately] probably contributed to the person that I am today [including my being fairly used to deep disappointment].)

While I grew up as a “Star Wars” fan — not only was finally seeing the very first “Star Wars” film a major event for me (I was taken to see it by an uncle who felt pity for my brother and me that our lazy, selfish, baby-boomer parents had yet to take us to it [another unfortunately true story]), but “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi” also were big events for me, even though “Jedi,” with its second Death Star (and its inevitable destruction), largely is a rehash of “New Hope,” just with a bigger budget and on a larger scale — I still expect a new “Star Wars” movie to bring fresh elements to the table, and “Rogue One” appears to do that.

And I didn’t need another reason to see “Rogue One,” but the fact that the Trump-loving white supremacists/neo-Nazis are boycotting “Rogue One” because it’s just too damned diverse (and thus apparently is anti-white, you see) is yet another significant reason for me to see it.

You would think that these “alt-right” losers would have boycotted “Force Awakens,” because in it, the heroine Rey kicks the ass of the bad-ass wannabe Kylo Ren, who reminds me a lot of the neo-Nazis: He very much wants to be a bad-ass, and is trying to mimic an actual bad-ass who came before him, but he’s just a pathetic, petty terrorist; oh, sure, he can cause plenty of harm to others, but at heart, he’s a weak fucking coward — who gets his sorry ass kicked by a girl.

I love it that as with “Force Awakens,” “Rogue One’s” main hero is a heroine, Jyn Erso (played by British actress Felicity Jones), a rebel who apparently is aided in her cause against the Empire by fellow rebels played by Mexican actor Diego Luna, black American actor Forest Whitaker, Chinese actor Donnie Yen, and Riz Ahmed, who is a Brit of Pakistani heritage.

I’ve enjoyed the work of Luna, Whitaker, Yen and the adorable, doe-eyed Ahmed, and I’m happy to be able to see all of them in one movie.

And that ass-kicking droid in “Rogue One” (named K-2SO, apparently an Imperial droid that/who is droidnapped and reprogrammed to work for the rebels) strikes me as pretty fucking cool — like a C-3PO who/that finally grew a pair.

Movies do a lot of things. They are escapism, for sure, and right about now we Americans — and those who live in nations that are affected by what we Americans allow our government actors to do (and what we don’t allow them to do) — sure could use some escapism.

But movies also are a deep part of American and global culture, and it’s not a one-way street; movies not only reflect the culture at large, but they help to shape the culture.

Even the dimwitted, cowardly members of the “alt-right” and other neo-Nazis know this, and that’s why they hate to see images of racial and gender equality in our mainstream movies; they want only straight, white, conservative men to be the sole heroes in our movies in perpetuity.

But “Star Wars” has been, at least in its own way, subversive from Day One. Even in 1977’s retroactively titled “A New Hope,” it’s clear that the evil Empire, with its legions of stormtroopers and military hierarchy and massive weaponry, is much like the short-lived Nazi German empire.

And “Star Wars'” heroes have not been its villains (although no doubt many have fetishized its villains to the point of not really even viewing them as villains); “Star Wars'” heroes always have been the little guys and gals who have stood up to the big, fascist bullies against all odds.

“Star Wars” has been anti-neo-Nazi since its birth in 1977; the mouth-breathing, knuckle-dragging, neo-Nazi mega-losers of today boycott it way too late.

And I’m incredibly fine, when I go to see “Rogue One” — taking a break from the news of the stunningly awful team that is being assembled in Washington, D.C., to “make America great again” by bringing it to the brink of its destruction — knowing that at least there shouldn’t be any neo-Nazis in the theater with me because of their pissy little boycott.

Update (Thursday, January 5, 2017): I finally saw “Rogue One” in IMAX on Monday.

While not a perfect movie, it probably is the best “Star Wars” movie to be released since “The Empire Strikes Back.” It certainly has the look and the feel of the 1977 “Star Wars.”

Like every “Star Wars” movie, “Rogue One” has some characters (humans and non-humans) that are rather dumb, to be frank, but in “Rogue One” the strong characters thankfully cancel out the others. Droid K-2SO (voiced by Alan Tudyk) steals the show as a C-3PO with balls, and Felicity Jones as reluctant Rebel Jyn Erso and Diego Luna as Rebel leader Cassian Andor are a strong heroine and hero team.

Riz Ahmed seems underused as Imperial turncoat Bodhi Rook, a character that is rather undeveloped, as are the characters of blind warrior Chirrut Imwe (who is reduced to babbling a mantra about the Force, which many viewers are going to find more tiresome and annoying than anything else), played by Donnie Yen, and radical Rebel offshoot Saw Gerrera, played by Forest Whitaker, whose importance seems diminished by a deficient back story.

The CGI of the long-dead Peter Cushing as Governor Tarkin is rather obviously CGI, and it’s surprising how much of the CGI Peter Cushing is in “Rogue One.” I’ll leave aside the discussion as to whether or not we even should be resurrecting dead actors via CGI, and just say that the CGI in “Rogue One” is lacking. We’ve come a long way from the creepy CGI of “The Polar Express,” but in “Rogue One,” it’s not far enough.

For all of it flaws, again, “Rogue One” succeeds in bringing back the look and feel and spirit of the 1977 “Star Wars” without entirely rehashing old story lines, as “Return of the Jedi” and “The Force Awakens” did.

Yes, like “Revenge of the Sith,” “Rogue One” fleshes out events that already were alluded to in the earlier films, but still, it’s a masterful fleshing out.

And it’s rather exhilarating, in fact, if you are an old “Star Wars” fan like I am, to watch “Rogue One” take you right to where the 1977 “Star Wars” begins.

I give “Rogue One” at least an “A-“. It misses primarily in some lacking character development. And I still don’t know about that CGI.

“Rogue One” must be given points for its diverse cast — it’s so refreshing when the hero isn’t yet another straight white guy — and for its rather bold ending, which I’d talk about except that it would be a major spoiler to tell you the fate of the main characters.

*I was nine years old when that movie came out, and it wasn’t subtitled “A New Hope” until 1981, when the movie was re-released.

**The iconic opening crawl of “A New Hope” reads:

It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire.

During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet.

Pursued by the Empire’s sinister agents, Princess Leia races home aboard her starship, custodian of the stolen plans that can save her people and restore freedom to the galaxy…

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It’s past time to reel in our stormtroopers and shrink the Death Star

There comes a time when you should see things clear [sic]
Free from my innocence, there is no circumstance too severe
Only the need for us, for us to believe again
There is a time, temptation’s on the run
Dreamer, you’ve had your way
Soldier, you’ve had your day in the sun
Now it’s time for us to begin again

Le Bel Age
Only our love will remain
Le Bel Age
Close to the truth once again …

— Pat Benatar, “Le Bel Age”

Please forgive my incredibly cheesy ’80s reference, but I’ve always loved that line: “Soldier, you’ve had your day in the sun.” (I don’t know that that the “dreamer” has had his or her way; I suppose that we need to know what it is, exactly, that the said dreamer dreams.)

At least since after Sept. 11, 2001, “hero” worship — worship of the mostly white male members of the U.S. military, law enforcement and, to a lesser extent, firefighters and emergency medical personnel — has gripped the nation.

Never mind that it’s the blowback from our military “heroes'” actions in the Middle East (where they were sent by stupid, white, filthy rich, greedy white men) that brought us 9/11 in the first fucking place.

Blowback is quite real. Take the 16 Afghan civilians, nine of them reportedly children, who reportedly were mowed down by one or more American stormtroopers today in what Reuters calls a “U.S. shooting spree.” Their relatives won’t want revenge against the United States of America?

Shit like this — the stuff of which 9/11 was made — happens, and then when shit like 9/11 happens, American fucktards scratch their heads and ask, “Why do they hate us so much?” (They then conclude that “they” hate us for our “freedom” and our “democracy” and our general lily-white goodness.)

So the endless loop — endless until we sane, actually patriotic Americans put an end to it or until the American empire collapses completely — is that the U.S. war machine slaughters innocent people in the Middle East, there is predictable retaliation in the form of “terrorism” (it’s never called terrorism when the U.S. military or the military of an American ally, such as Israel, slaughters innocent people), and then the members who comprise the U.S. war machine claim that their existence — indeed, their expansion — is necessary because of the global threats! (Never mind that they are the ones who are creating any actual threats.)

Yet a nauseating pro-military, pro-“hero”-worship meme that ABC News rolled out recently is that the members of the U.S. military are “the other 1 percent,” and that the rest of us just don’t appreciate them enough.

Really? Really? The U.S. military is bleeding us dry of our tax dollars — and because of this obscene military overspending we are watching our empire crumble as did past empires that overspent on their militaries — but we civilians owe the members of the U.S. military even more?

This is the deal: China, which is second in the world in its military spending, spends only one-sixth of what the United States spends on its military. This is what world military spending looks like:

The United States easily could more than halve its military spending and still maintain its undisputed global military dominance. At this point — the point on which the American empire teeters upon collapse — I would accept even a one-third reduction in U.S. military spending (for now), with those funds returned to domestic spending in order to save the fucking empire.

But we are told by the pro-military wingnuts that we must have this level of military spending, even though millions of Americans cannot afford health-care costs (health care never should have been made for-profit), even though our public schools continue to crumble and our teachers don’t have the funding that they need (they pay for many things out of their own pockets), even though almost no American (except for the actual 1 percent, the plutocrats) feels any retirement security, even though we have plenty of homeless people in our streets, and speaking of which, our streets are disintegrating and our bridges are falling down.

But even though the U.S. military is bleeding the United States of America fucking dry, ABC News quotes one veteran as having said, “‘It’s hard not to be a little bit angry when you see the tremendous sacrifice that some have paid in this war’ while others have been completely unaffected.”

No, the 99 percent of us have been quite affected by the right wing’s wars of choice in the Middle East for the benefit of the oily war profiteers, such as Dick Cheney’s Halliburton, which received no-bid contracts for the wholly unnecessary war in Iraq that the treasonous, unelected Bush regime delivered for Halliburton and the other oily, war-profiteering subsidiaries of BushCheneyCorp. (No war, no profits, so indeed, BushCheneyCorp created a war.)

Largely because of the astronomical costs of the Vietraq War (and also, of course, because of his tax cuts for the wealthiest among us), while George W. Bush inherited a record federal budget surplus from Bill Clinton, Bush handed over to Barack Obama a record federal budget deficit.

Americans who have been unemployed and who have lost their homes and who can’t afford decent health care (and for whom a college education is pretty much a financial impossibility) don’t need to be lectured to by any bitter veterans that they haven’t sacrified enough. They have. We have. We have sacrified ridiculously more than enough to the U.S. war machine, and while the mostly-white-male objects of “hero” worship expect us to get on our knees and suck their dicks (or maybe they want us to play dead and they can then urinate on our “corpses” — that certainly seems to be their fetish), the members of the female-dominated professions, such as teachers and nurses, whose sacrifices also are immense, not only go unappreciated and unrecognized, but are told by the stupid white men that they must continue to suffer budget cuts and have their unions eliminated so that they lose altogether what paltry remaining rights that they have.

(I used to be a nurse in the for-profit wealth care — er, health care — system. I can tell you that with chronic understaffing and other lack of resources due to capitalistic greed, and with patients [most of them baby boomers] feeling entitled to the best health care possible even though most of them put themselves into the hospital because of their selfish, greedy, irresponsible lifestyle choices, going to work felt very much like being in a war zone — so again, nurses and teachers need no fucking lectures on the topic of self-sacrifice from egomaniacal G.I. Joes.)

If American veterans want to be angry for what they have been put through — and I suppose that they should be angry — then they need to be angry at the plutocrats who sent them unnecessarily to war in the first fucking place — and not at us civilians who pay for these military misadventures that are initiated by the treasonous, chickenhawk plutocrats who cannot empty the U.S. Treasury via the military-industrial complex fast enough.

And you know, I was one of millions of Americans who protested during the run-up to the Bush regime’s launch of its bogus Vietraq War in March 2003. Yes, I was at the California State Capitol at an anti-imminent-war rally in early 2003. I knew that invading Iraq was a horrible fucking idea, that it was a bogus war that was about to be launched by the treasonous, unelected Bush regime, and I registered my protest.

But at that time we progressives who opposed the impending Vietraq War were branded by the pro-military wingnuts as lunatics or “terrorist”-loving traitors or both.

And today, these pro-military wingnuts are telling us that we’re not sacrificing enough for the bogus warfare in the Middle East that we opposed from Day One.

And it’s interesting: The members of the U.S. military predominantly come from the red states, and the denizens of the red states are always accusing others of being parasites. They’re the hard workers, and we of the blue states are the slacking parasites on their hard work and their sacrifices, according to their narrative, yet it has been the case for years that the blue states get back significantly less from the federal government than they pay into it, while the red states get back significantly more than they pay into it. (I wrote about this fact here way back in April 2009.)

I assume that the calculations that show that the red states actually are the parasites on the blue states factor in the federal tax dollars collected from the blue states that go into the U.S. military and then are diverted predominantly to the red states, but if not, then the parasitical relationship is even more severe than it has been reported.

In any event, upon examination what emerges is the truth: Which is that the red states, appropriate to their assigned color, are blood-suckers — ticks, fleas, leeches — while we of the blue states, appropriate to our assigned color of oxygen-deprived, near-death blue, are the host, and not fucking vice-versa.

The right-wing fascists love the U.S. military because whatever they do not understand or they do not like or agree with they wish to destroy, and because of their ignorance they are fearful, and because they are fearful, they glorify the capacity to kill those of whom they are afraid. Fearful idiots — not truly brave and loving individuals — glorify guns, bombs and other means of killing people.

And, of course, there are millions of traitors — from big-time military contractors all the way down to individual soldiers — who feed at the trough that is U.S. military overspending. They are traitors because they don’t care that U.S. military overspending is destroying their own nation; they just want their gravy train to keep on chugging. To justify their continued looting of the U.S. Treasury — to continue to rob us blind — they have to invent perpetual “threats” and “national interests,” when the real interests sure the fuck aren’t national, but quite personally financial.

Religion has played a role, too, of course. Most members of the U.S. military, most of them being from the “Christo”fascist red states, identify themselves as “Christians,” even though, perversely ironically, Jesus Christ was all about nonviolence (turn the other cheek, he taught, not gun down your opponent and then piss on his corpse). These “Christo”fascists are having their little crusade in the Middle East, slaughtering Muslims left and right, but why should atheist taxpayers like me have to fund their fucking crusade?

Prick Santorum and Newt Gingrich and their “Christo”fascist ilk whine that the U.S. government “persecutes” “Christians” and that there should be no separation of church and state in the United States, but when the U.S. government is sponsoring their anti-Muslim crusade, I don’t see any real fucking separation of church and state.

Indeed, the U.S. military is rife with “Christo”fascists like Marine Sgt. Gary Stein, who, The Associated Press reports, “first started a Facebook page called Armed Forces Tea Party Patriots to encourage service members to exercise their free speech rights [and then] declared that he wouldn’t follow orders from the commander in chief, President Barack Obama.”

This is a photo of the traitor Stein, out of his pointy white hood:

He looks just like all of the other embittered right-wing bald white guys, like “Joe the Plumber,” who is running for the U.S. House of Representatives in Ohio:

(Yes, apparently “Joe the Plumber,” a.k.a. Samuel Wurzelbacher, had someone write a book for him. No, he is not expected to win the election in November, and very apparently “the American dream” is that right-wing white guys maintain the control that they’ve had since the nation’s inception. A “dream” for the stupid white men, I suppose, but a fucking nightmare for the rest of us, such as women, non-whites, non-heterosexuals, non-“Christians” and non-fascists. [And civilians in the Middle East, of course…])

So: My — our — federal tax dollars don’t go things that we need, such as health care, education, infrastructure maintenance and environmental protection, but go instead to the U.S. military, where blatant traitors like Marine Sgt. Gary Stein proclaim that they don’t have to follow the orders of the nation’s first black president. On our dime.

Any member of the U.S. military who dared to publicly announce that he or she would not follow George W. Bush’s orders would have found him- or herself in knee-deep shit. He or she would have been expected to keep any dissenting political opinions to him- or herself or to be disciplined, but obviously Marine Sgt. Gary Stein and his treasonous, fascistic ilk feel that the U.S. military is only an arm of the American right wing, and thus only Repugnican Tea Party presidents are to be obeyed.

We truly patriotic Americans — who fucking fund the U.S. military in the first place — need to reel in this treasonous bullshit quickly. I see precious little difference between the supposed “subversive,” “Communist” infiltration of the U.S. military during the McCarthy era and the actual subversive infiltration of the U.S. military by the right-wing, white supremacist “Christo”fascists today.

It’s not their fucking military. It’s our fucking military, and it’s insane that we fund them only so that they then can bite the hands that feed them.

We progressives need to man up, so to speak, and demand that politicians, perhaps especially those who call themselves “Democrats,” stop being cowed by the pro-military, “Christo”fascist right wing and stop being the Pentagon’s little bitches. The stupid-white-male-dominated Pentagon (the “Death Star” that I made reference to) should answer to us, the people, and not vice-versa.

Military overspending must be contained before the American empire collapses completely. To be complicit in the empire’s collapse is to be a fucking traitor. There is no way around that.

I don’t want the members of the U.S. military to be unemployed. We have enough unemployment. I want a great number of those employed by the U.S. military to be re-employed, but this time in capacities that help the taxpayers of the United States of America — and not the greedy, treasonous actual 1 percent, who are the only ones who really benefit from the perpetual bogus warfare that they impose upon the 99 percent of us for their own treasonous war profiteering.

These re-employed, redirected individuals from the U.S. military can be engineers, teachers, nurses, doctors, lawyers, scientists, construction workers, architects, cooks, environmentalists, artists (yes, we need art much more than we need more bombs and fighter planes), whatever they want to be that they are able to be, and those services are worth paying for.

American stormtroopers urinating on corpses and mowing down innocent civilians in the Middle East as a by-product of obscene war profiteering — that, apparently, is what the pro-military right wing wants.

That’s not how I want my tax dollars spent, and the progressive vision, I argue, is infinitely better for the United States of America than is the apocalyptic “vision” of the pro-military “Christo”fascists who tell us progressives that we’re just not sacrificing enough for them.

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