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December 19, 2016

Rogue One SPOILER thread
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 08:14 AM * 95 comments

We know the context here. Somewhere else, the simple story is about to begin: the brave farmboy with secret gifts, the princess without a throne, the smuggler who finally finds a treasure worth keeping. The last teachers of the lost arts, goodness, loss with purpose, gain with hope.

Right now, those stories seem hopelessly naïve, both in- and out-universe.

So maybe this is the movie we need, another, more complicated look at struggle and redemption, even if no victory is ever final. I haven’t seen it yet, but I’m hopeful (from my knowledge of the franchise, if nothing else) that it will be, at the very least, a good watch. I’m interested to see what else there is in it.

(Like all Making Light spoiler threads, this is a place to discuss the film without having to ROT-13 spoilers. Because it does contain them, though, and thus excludes those in our community who want to avoid knowing too much before seeing the film, please do not let the conversation stray.)

Comments on Rogue One SPOILER thread:
#1 ::: Stephen Frug ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2016, 08:52 AM:

My favorite retcon from the film was the fact that the flaw in the Death Star was *deliberately* put there by a Empire-hating scientist, who had to make it subtle enough that others wouldn't notice & remove it. It fixes, so elegantly, a big problem in the first movie (ie "why did they insert a 'press button to destroy station' feature?"), without at all undermining the earlier story.

The very model of a good retcon, I'd say.

#2 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2016, 09:13 AM:

I liked the movie a lot, and it's not as if I'm unaware that people die in a war, but I would have liked to have known going in that the endgame was ROCKS FALL. It took several hours to come down from that one. As someone said, I was expecting a heist movie, not a war movie.

Tarkin was ever-so-slightly uncanny valley for me--indeed, from the trailers and first scene I thought Krennik was Tarkin, and only twigged when he went to talk to the Moff--but I thought Leia looked great, though I imagine I might have had a problem with her if she'd been on-screen for longer than ten seconds. (Was that actually Carrie Fisher's voice?)

It was pretty awesome, after three (and a half) movies' worth of Darth Whiner, to see Vader being a badass.

#3 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2016, 09:16 AM:

Saw it with my 12 and 15 year old kids.

Our highlights - the retcon Stephen details above, the two thugs from the Cantina in the street, Vader's laugh-out-loud OTT home, the fact that they didn't wimp out on the ending.

Lowlights - there was a lot of jumping between planets at the start that we did not need identified since they don't matter later. CGI Tarkin was a mistake - very distracting. Administrator Krennic was not a very imposing bad guy. Whoever Forest Whitaker was overacting seems to have been mainly edited out - pointless character.

I thought our heroine went from cynical to rebel rather too easily - I avoided trailers and spoilers, but reading some stuff on the trailers it may be that some layers of double-cross were removed from the final version.

#4 ::: Craft (Alchemy) ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2016, 09:33 AM:

Reposting sans ROT13 from the open thread:

Saw Rogue One last night and thought it was superb. It's not of a kind with the other seven; personally, I'm very glad (partly speaking as erstwhile Star Wars fanficcer here) that Disney have grasped that SW is a whole universe, with lots of room for other kinds of stories outside the central mythic arc. That said, I was expecting something more heist-y; I did not expect that their first deviation from the main sequence would be ... well, a war film, and a good one, with the moral messiness, political charge and on-screen body count that goes with the territory.

And excellent to see a racially diverse band of ragtag heroes, too. Excellent main cast.

Adding new thoughts for spoiler thread:

- Like Carrie S, I didn't realise going in that it was going to be the kind of film where none of the protagonists makes it through. I think it dawned on me maybe three-quarters of the way through, when Chirret died, that it was going to be everybody, not just one or two token deaths to add to the emotional heft.

- I appreciated that they didn't push the romance angle between Cassian and Jyn. I don't think there would have been room for it, and also I think it worked well with the tone of the film to leave them as comrades in arms.

- The power of the Death Star felt much more viscerally awful, I think because of, rather than despite, the smaller scale. It moved it into the realm of the comprehensible. Also, keeping the scene with Sol Garrera, and then with Jyn and Cassian, all the way up until the blast front hit (rather than cutting away earlier to the explosion), made it much more of a punch in the gut.

- After many films in which Force-users mostly fight other Force-users - i.e. people at least in the same vague league - the bit at the very end where Vader cuts through the Rebels was a stark reminder of how utterly he out-powers normal people, and what that degree of power looks like in the field (i.e. total carnage.)

- It took me a while to pin down CGI Tarkin - I couldn't decide whether he was full CGI, or a lookalike and good makeup, or a lookalike with a CGI boost ... On his subsequent appearances it became clearer that it was CGI, but I was still shocked at how good it was compared to, say, prequel Yoda.

#5 ::: Cory Doctorow ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2016, 09:42 AM:

Alternate titles:

Can't Stop the Signal

Information Wants to Be Free

Quipbot 3000 Radicalizes a Suicide Bomber


It was pretty weird to sit in a Southern California cinema with a room full of people all cheering for the Jedi-aligned martyrs -- I'd never noticed that Lucas's good guys are called something that's very nearly "jihadi."

#6 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2016, 09:51 AM:

When we saw Captain Andor murdering people and then sneering about the place before volunteering, I thought we were going to get a full-on Dirty Dozen or an Eagles Dare double-double-double cross movie.

But no, at least not in the version they released.

#7 ::: Will "scifantasy" Frank ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2016, 09:55 AM:

Cory Doctorow@5, while I won't deny that, the origin of the term "Jedi" is well established to be jidai, deriving from jidai-geki, the films (most famously by Kurosawa, who was Lucas's single biggest film influence) about the Japanese Warring States Period (the sengoku-jidai). Most notably, The Seven Samurai and Hidden Fortress.

(Especially the latter, which features two bickering peasants caught up in a war who keep running into all the principal generals and the princess and at one point they dodge their way through the middle of a crossfire and yeah, this is C-3PO and R2-D2.)

(Full commentary coming soon, once I get sign-off from someone else.)

#8 ::: Will "scifantasy" Frank ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2016, 10:09 AM:

And now, the full:

It's fanfiction done right.

Not literally, of's the opposite of fanfic, being--you know--licensed. But Rogue One scratches a particular fanfic itch: the side stories, the "missing scenes," the expansion of minor characters' incidental appearances, the "from another side" perspective flips.

The Star Wars expanded universe has always had a lot of those; see Mike Stackpole and Aaron Allston's X-Wing series, or the Tales collections, or so many other TV shows, books, comics, or games (especially tabletop games, where everybody can't play Luke and Leia and Han) set in the Galaxy Far Far of the strengths of the setting of Star Wars is that there's space for a whole lot of stories incidental to, parallel to, or completely disconnected from the principal story of the Skywalker, the Jedi, the Hero's Journey.

But this was the first time that one of those reached the pinnacle of being Star Wars, which is to say, a movie.

My co-blogger in our Star Wars Expanded Universe reread blog (plug, plug) has started writing this week's post--which is, of course, a review of Rogue One, following neatly on the heels of our rewatch of the original film last week--so while I won't spoil it entirely, her line that cut to the quick was "It wasn’t sorrow that made me cry, it was joy and catharsis."

Because for Star Wars fans, particularly the sort that read and wrote fanfic, that told the side stories, that imagined being in the universe not as Luke, Leia, and Han, but alongside them, this was our dreams on screen.

#9 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2016, 11:00 AM:

We saw it last week and loved it, and I don't want to see it again any time soon. Which is to say, it was very well done, and at that moment I really needed escapism much more than "We'll fight the good fight, but most of us won't survive it."

I accepted Tarkin with only mild uneasiness (mostly "how is he still that age"—I didn't make it all the way to "and isn't he 20 years dead?"), but Leia was jarring, possibly because she wasn't on long enough for me to get used to her. I cheered for all the references I caught, and want to watch the original film again now to see what I missed.

One thing that did bother me once they got to the fighting was how many women weren't there. It's an improvement on the previous films (especially among the X-wing pilots), but I think my hopes exceeded Lucasfilm's willingness at this point.

#10 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2016, 11:18 AM:

I guessed the endgame about two-thirds of the way through. Unfortunately, I was never emotionally invested in the characters enough to be really moved by it: my reaction was more "Cool that they were willing to go there" rather than "What a sad and heroic sacrifice."

I had no idea about CGI Tarkin. I assumed that they had managed to cast someone with an uncanny resemblance to Peter Cushing, and done extraordinary things with makeup. Anyone using the phrase "uncanny valley" gets the side-eye from me: as far as I'm concerned, they're seeing what they expect to see, not what's really there.

I'm pretty sure that the word "Hope" was indeed Carrie Fisher's voice: I would guess that they sampled her saying the word from the soundtrack to episode IV. ("Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi...")

#11 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2016, 11:31 AM:

<gentle voice>
Different people's uncanny valleys work differently, because brains.
</gentle voice>

#12 ::: cyllan ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2016, 11:59 AM:

Several Things:

Curiously enough, the uncanny valley aspect was much reduced for me the second time around. I think knowing that Tarkin was CGI for sure let my brain relax and just roll with it. (Or there was something to do with the place where I saw it first vs second; the spouse was unbothered by it at all.)

I loved it. I'd have skipped the scene with the tentacles (because...why is this here?) but other than that, I really really loved it. I think I needed the catharsis of "Sometimes horrible things happen, and it's still good to fight even if you're never going to win because we hope for the better day tomorrow." I did, however, have a long talk with my 11 year old about how this was NOT a fun, happy, good-times movie. (My husband, prior to seeing it, said, "Well, I assume they all die since we never hear about them again ever.")

11 year old did fine, but was glad that she'd been warned about the ending.

Finally, while I think the far-right rumors that Disney 'reshot the movie to make it more anti-Empire because Trump' are complete nonsense, I did note that all of the Bad Guys are white men. I didn't spot a single person of color or woman (much less a woman of color) in the Imperial forces. When you put that against the highly diverse (at least in terms of ethnicity; I would have loved having a woman of color in the Rag-Tag) Band of Rebels, it was a striking contrast.

#13 ::: Will "scifantasy" Frank ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2016, 12:24 PM:

cyllan@12: That criticism confuses me, or I should say it confuses me to hear now, because the same was true of the Empire in the original films. The Imperials whose faces we could see were white males, usually with vaguely "upper-crust" accents, Cushing as Tarkin being the ultimate example thereof.

(And the ones whose faces we couldn't see were literally faceless white-clad masses called "stormtroopers.")

And yet I hear people screaming to boycott the movie because suddenly it has an anti-Nazi bias.

Star Wars is many things. None of them is subtle.

#14 ::: cyllan ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2016, 01:15 PM:


It's less obvious in Episodes 4-7 because most of the rebellion were either aliens or white guys. We watched Ep 4 last night, and when everyone is white and male, you don't notice the dynamic as much. But yes. The Empire are the bad guys, and they always have been. Just because Darth Vader is amazingly charismatic and gets a redemption arc doesn't make the Empire a good thing. You can't be redeemed from a Good Thing after all.

#15 ::: Charlie Dodgson ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2016, 04:26 PM:

On the uncanny valley: I'm reminded of the curious problem of Hugh Laurie's American accent on House. To a lot of Brits, who've seen Laurie in many other roles, it sounds outrageously fake -- but most Americans, who weren't familiar with any of Laurie's other work, walked in with no expectations and had no problem with it.

Rather the same with the CG characters in Rogue One; I didn't know Tarkin was CG, and had no problem with it -- but Leia *had* to be CG, and was well into the Valley.

#16 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2016, 04:55 PM:

I very quickly realized the two Tarkin issues that reduced his realism for me: the "who is he looking at" problem, and head motion. The latter was apparent by the juxtaposition with the Evil Project Manager: looking at him I realized that there is a lot of slop in the "keeping your head upright" circuits which produces a slight jiggle when the rest of the body is moving, where as cyber-Tarkin's servo-control is absolutely perfect. Skin texture also still isn't perfect. Cyber-Leia's problem for me was more a question of very slightly off proportions.

And speaking of cyber: the droid stole the show every time he opened his, her, speech circuits.

The other uncanny thing, in a totally different way, was the sense of convergence towards he opening scenes of the first movie.

#17 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2016, 06:16 PM:

Cyber Tarkin was "off" to me, but not to the point of being obtrusive. He might have benefited but not showing his face so much. Growling while looking out of a starship window would have been acceptable.

Cyber Leia was more off, but her appearance was so brief and contained that I could overlook the flaws and feel cheered by . . . Hope. And glee that They Went And Did It.

The other uncanny thing, in a totally different way, was the sense of convergence towards he opening scenes of the first movie.

"Surprised not surprised" was what popped into my head, once it seemed inevitable where it was heading. Seeing that consular ship and its crew recreated was eye-bugging and a little unsettling.

* * *
As much as I enjoyed it, I'm not sure if I could see this film again. At least not for some time. I'm not in the mood for tragic heroism.

Although I'm the guy who led the clapping in my theater.

#18 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2016, 06:25 PM:

abi@11: I was reacting in part to an article I read online that expressed disbelief that anyone might have found CGI!Tarkin convincing, which engendered a reaction in me of "Confirmation bias alert!" But you're right: I expressed myself too strongly.

#19 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2016, 07:19 PM:

* Continue to be bemused by the lack of air locks and space suits and such in that universe.

* I am glad that Darth Vader apparently gets out of his suit and takes a bath now and then.

* Recreated Yavin base (and personnel!) gave me that first feeling of WHOA!

#20 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: December 19, 2016, 08:44 PM:

I found the movie satisfactory but not outstanding. Full points for deciding where they were going to go and doing it without flinching. But none of the characters really hooked me. (The monk and his gun buddy came closest.)

Speaking of the monk, I liked that we got a sincerely religious viewpoint who was not tied to the Jedi order. (I.e., did not just rehash the cheesy lines that were handed to Alec Guinness in the 70s.)

The previews led me to expect that Jyn would also have that faith in the Force, but that's not how the movie went.

I rather liked Administrator Krennic as a character. Actually, he was about the only multifaceted character in the movie, wasn't he? Jyn lost her cynicism and Cassian had to... something about deciding whether to commit murder for his cause? But Krennic was trying to achieve something he believed in *and* struggle within the corrupt Imperial system -- loyalty to his Empire and his selfish ambition, both evident. He was interesting.

Jyn was kind of not very interesting.

I had not heard anything about Tarkin, and found him weird-looking, but in a "too much makeup" way. I did not twig to CGI until I started reading spoilers afterwards. Leia freaked me right out, but of course that was only a couple of seconds.

#21 ::: Howard Bannister ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2016, 08:35 AM:

C Wingate @ 16

"And speaking of cyber: the droid stole the show every time he opened his, her, speech circuits."

Alan Tudyk's work with voice-acting and playing digital characters is right up there with his work playing himself. His turn in I, Robot was great, and also in Wreck-It Ralph. His versatility endlessly amazes me. (and comparisons to the end of his character arc in Firefly shall not be made, because that's cheap)

#22 ::: Stephen Rochelle ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2016, 10:53 AM:

I'm with Charlie Dodgson @15 on Tarkin/Leia: didn't know about either (had been trying to figure out if Ben Mendelsohn was playing some sort of retconned Tarkin, as he's got a similar facial structure), but assumed Tarkin was good casting and makeup while Leia was obviously CG.

Also, for Leia's dialogue, I'm assuming that was Carrie Fisher recording new stuff; she was in the credits with some sort of "special thanks" tag. Could have just been for permission to use her likeness, I suppose.

Loved the visuals of starships in close proximity to things. Vader's over-the-top castle was, IIRC, based on some original-trilogy-era concept art for the same, or maybe some early EU novel discussion. It felt familiar. Or maybe I just spent too much time at WoW's Blackrock Mountain; I'm not sure.

Plot-wise, I was pleased to see that the "running with a hard drive" thing from trailers was much reduced (transmitting felt better), but "only the Rebel flagship was listening to a broadcast transmission; the escorts didn't bother copying anything" tripped my suspension of disbelief -- necessary to set up the original film, but super-poor-current-tech even by Star Wars' poor-current-tech standards.

Blue Squadron, which was Luke's squadron in the novelization, being the one that infiltrated the shield was nice. Ditto having Red 5 (Luke's movie callsign) appear and be destroyed to establish the hole in the squadron.

#23 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2016, 12:12 PM:

Loved it. Somehow, my personal understanding of the immediate lead-up to ANH had gotten disconnected from the actual crawl, and this reconnected it nicely. What I liked:

- The characters were strong sketches -- one or two major attributes, recognizable designs, a couple of arc moments each. This is not a character driven movie, it's an ensemble movie.
- Saw is very clearly the young man from Clone Wars after two decades of nonstop insurgency. When his men gently rolled a grenade under that tank, I knew who had taught him to do that.
- Someone who is in touch with the force but doesn't "use" it.
- The pacing from about halfway through the Eadeau sequence to the end was basically perfect.
- The terror of Vader
- Krennic learning, slowly, what it means to participate in fascism, even at a high rank, if you're not in the innermost circle.
- General Syndulla to the briefing room. My wife grabbed my arm for that and every time the VCX-100 (presumptively the Ghost) was on-screen.
- The costume, set, and alien designs felt more Star Wars to me than anything in TFA.
- The hint that there could have been a romance between Cassian and Jyn, had there been time. Their look before heading down to the beach, and their embrace there, really sold that they had connected. I like that they didn't kiss or say it out-loud though.

Didn't like

- The octopus that drives you mad. Briefly, and then you're fine.
- Jyn was clearly competent the couple of times we see her in a fight/infiltration. I would have liked a touch more around the climax.

#24 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2016, 12:57 PM:

@22, "only the Rebel flagship was listening to a broadcast transmission; the escorts didn't bother copying anything"

... I didn't think any of the escorts made it out. It is also possible that the flagship has a lot more comm equipment and the escorts couldn't hear it. (Yesterday's Tomorrow syndrome?)

#25 ::: Howard Bannister ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2016, 01:02 PM:

I thought it was implied that it was a narrow transmission, aimed at the specific gate in the shield, and thus only a perfectly placed receiver could pick it up.

This was, of course, mildly ridiculous, but set up by having to aim the big dish. Maybe. That part was clearly following narrative needs more than technology, so I was looking for a gloss of a reason there.

#26 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2016, 03:32 PM:

I'm pretty sure the single Leia word came from old footage; Carrie Fisher's voice sounds much older now than that.

I would characterize it as having a very different sense of heroic than the main sequence: it's more that of the Norse sagas than the Greek mythological heroism beloved of Campbell (especially in its lack of survivors). I also liked how it gave a sense of how the rebellion could even exist (because space is big. Really big.) And I didn't detect a lot of main character stupidity that wasn't driven by hubris (Vader, for instance, should have force-yanked the data card, but it was obviously much more satisfying to plow through all the foot soldiers first. Characters were not rigorously rational, but their emotional acts made sense.

The visuals were wonderful. I especially liked the appearance of the death star over the moon, from the target's POV.

#27 ::: Stephen Rochelle ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2016, 03:45 PM:

@24: I thought the first few jumped away, then Vader's ship appeared and splattered the next few like bugs.

@25: Could be. Even then, why isn't the receiving ship retransmitting to everybody else, who should then be jumping away scattered to improve the odds that one ship escapes? At minimum, why not pass the data along hardline connection to Leia's docked ship in addition to the card? It just seemed to be a sequence of solvable problems if not for the need to match up with the first/next movie. (And it's not as if I'll lose sleep here -- it was just a thing that jumped out as "shoehorning this movie into the pre-existing status quo post".)

@26's "Vader should have force-yanked the data card": I agree with the satisfaction; also, I read it as Vader being confident that the data card was trapped on a dead ship (the body language of the Vader/lackeys shot as the blockade runner blasts free read "surprised" to me). Which, if there's no particular need to hurry to get the card, excuses the "slow satisfaction" approach.

#28 ::: Howard Bannister ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2016, 04:04 PM:

They included the line when you first see the big dish, they must need it to move big data like that. Which was, of course, a singularly stupid line.

In retrospect I suspect they're setting a rule. If you want to just transmit the stuff, then why couldn't anybody just transmit the plans at any time so they don't have the only copy? Free the signal? So big data requires a big dish to movie.

Makes no sense in real-world terms, but places a limitation that makes the physical delivery of the plans in the next movie make sense. (well, "make sense", anyway)

#29 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: December 20, 2016, 04:22 PM:

I enjoyed it. Big Plot Hole count -1, for explaining how the Death Star was vulnerable to one well placed shot. The only "oh come on" moment was seeing Jyn jump across a gap and catch hold of the opposite wall by her fingertips. The fate of the characters seemed clear to me as soon as I worked out that the only knowledge that anyone had of the Death Star's vulnerability was on that data card, and I'm glad that the film makers went where was necessary. It's not a happy film by any stretch, but there was the good-to-hear-from-time-to-time message that no, not everyone has a happy ending even if they "deserve" it, but what they do is still worth doing.

#30 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2016, 04:45 AM:

Right to the end, I was expecting Goggles the Pilot You Thought Was Dead to swing by and rescue Jyn and Cassian.

There is no particular reason these characters would appear in the further episodes if separated from the disk in this movie - it's not as if they were key to the rebels - a captain and a girl who's only importance was her father, now dead.

Pleased that they did not go there, it made for a better ending.

I think the deal with the dish was that they planned to aim the big dish at the gate and then open it, so they were going to transmit the message through a keyhole and needed power. In the finish, the rebels destroyed the entire shield rather than opening the gate, so not needed.

As to why only the command ship received the transmission, the whole facility was based on data security - I assume the dish was intended to narrowcast secure data to specific targets, not blast it at the whole sky.

#31 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2016, 09:56 AM:

It's possible that the flagship was trying to broadcast the plans, but lacked the high-powered, specialized transmission facilities of the data storage center; plus it was trying to flee. And no matter what, the disk was the only known complete copy and worth protecting.

#32 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2016, 12:03 PM:

The next movie will introduce the engineer who designed the Scariff data archive, who was a secret Rebel sympathizer and introduced a flaw in the big dish such that it could only transmit to one ship at a time...

Okay, maybe not.

I don't think it's a problem that the dish was controlled by Movie Logic. I *do* think it's a problem that the Movie Logic was so baroque that every character in the final scene had to explain the logic out loud to the audience. Twice, in some cases.

#33 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2016, 01:09 PM:

Something else that struck me (and the palm trees played into this) was how the rebel grunts had a decided US-in-Vietnam uniform vibe going. And maybe it's just me, but Vader's palace-fortress read "Orthanc" to me.

#34 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2016, 02:43 PM:

C. Wingate@33: I wasn't sure which US military period I was seeing, but I was definitely reading the outfits as something between WW II and Vietnam.

And we both thought "Barad-dûr", rather than "Orthanc", but yes.

#35 ::: Anderson ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2016, 03:06 PM:

Tarkin didn't annoy me, but there was little reason for him to be physically present on the Death Star. They could've had him communicating onscreen, which especially given the poor quality (cf. the screens on Vader's SSD in Empire), would've covered up a lot of the fault in the CGI.

Leia worked for me, in that brief moment.

The only plot point that bothers me is, why were the two star destroyers so freakin' ineffective, to the point of letting themselves be catastrophically demolished, and then Vader shows up in HIS same-model ship and takes out the Rebel fleet?

Oh, and one more: the crawl to Episode IV says that the Rebels have just won their first victory against the Empire. Getting a small fleet wiped out except for a single ship is not much of a victory, even allowing for the fact that Leia gets away with the plans (for a while).

(And how did Vader track Tantive IV?)

#36 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: December 21, 2016, 08:19 PM:

Anderson @ #35:

The destruction of a major Imperial archive might count as a successful blow against the Empire, depending on how much of that stuff they had up-to-date off-site backups of.

(Yes, I know, *technically* it was Tarkin who blew up the archive, but it was a consequence of the Rebel attack so I think the Rebels get to claim it.)

#37 ::: Jason Ipswitch ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2016, 10:58 AM:

@35 At least one of the Star Destroyers was totally crippled by a bombing run soon after the Rebels dropped out of hyperspace. (Ion bombs from Y-wings, if I remember my Star Wars terminology.)

#38 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2016, 06:44 PM:

Someone built a gingerbread Death Star.

#39 ::: chris ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2016, 07:03 PM:

Vader, for instance, should have force-yanked the data card
Did he know where it was, precisely enough to "grab" it?

We have seen Force users telekinetically grab a lightsaber, but only when they were concentrating on it and it was in plain sight. Vader was busy fighting, and the first blaster bolt he *doesn't* pay attention to is going to seriously annoy him.

I think it wasn't necessarily about being satisfying to plow through the rebels first, as not knowing which of them actually had it.

I didn't find it particularly implausible that the dish was needed for a high-bandwidth (high enough to send the complete plans to an object big enough to be mistaken for a moon in minutes) transmission from planet to orbit. But that doesn't explain why it couldn't have been copied *locally* afterwards -- if you can fit it on one small card you can fit it on multiple small cards. Or droids.

Seeing the rebels pass it out to 20 different ships and then 19 of them don't make it to hyperspace (or seeing 20 rebels in a hangar bay with the plans preparing to take them to separate ships and Vader kills 19 of them before they can take two steps) might have been more believable in that regard, but maybe they just didn't have the time or thought it was too distracting from other storylines.

Anyone who has seen episode 4 knows that (i) Leia got out alive and (ii) nobody else with the plans did; do we really need to be shown exactly how that happened? Is it more important than other things they could do with that amount of the audience's time?

#40 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2016, 09:24 PM:

I saw the film on opening night with Mr. Ten, who liked it very much and commenced raving about it immediately. It apparently hit him right between the eyes. I needed more time to think about it, but I think I like it more than most if not all of the previous films. Since then, I've read a couple reviews that I find agreeable, one in Jacobin magazine, and the second at War Is Boring.

Some responses to the ongoing discussion here...

p1. That scene with the tentacled interrogation monster serves to make a statement about torture, which I think its removal would detract from the film. When it happens, our brave shuttle pilot has already given up all the information he's got. Nevertheless, Sol Gerrera is gonna light him up just on general principle. This really drives home just how morally compromised our supposedly heroic insurgents have become after 20 years of fighting asymmetric warfare from the bottom. I think it's good that the film didn't shy from that.

p2. Watching the rebel leadership cadre bicker and fail was also good for me. During all of that, I couldn't help but sympathize with those terribly abused rebel grunts whose loyalty none of them deserved. When they commandeer the shuttle and mount their own operation to steal the Death Star plans without a mission authorization from Rebel Alliance HQ, that was when the Seven Samurai vibe really hit me. Here go these morally compromised ronin off to fight a losing battle in the fading hope that, if they win it, maybe the next generation of children won't have to grow up in the middle of a seemingly endless war. That's the first time I think I've seen that sentiment portrayed in a Star Wars movie, which given the title of the franchise, you'd think it would be there with more regularity.

p3. There was a really nice subtle touch in that whole subplot where Jyn gives K2-SO the pistol. If you weren't steeped in Star Wars lore, and you'd only seen this film and none of the others, it might have seemed a little weird how K2 reacts when Jyn gives him a weapon. That will reward those people on reviewing the film when they notice how all the other rebels, including Cassian, treat K2-SO, and how Jyn giving him that pistol is actually a big enough deal that his reaction makes sense. It makes K2's death scene carry at least the same weight as the deaths of the human protagonists.

Anyway, those are my additional thoughts.

#41 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2016, 09:33 PM:

Will Frank @13,
| And yet I hear people screaming to boycott the movie because suddenly it has an anti-Nazi bias.

Can I just take a brief time-out to say this is a profoundly weird thing to see written here without irony in 2016?

#42 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2016, 10:28 PM:

"do we really need to be shown exactly how that happened? Is it more important than other things they could do with that amount of the audience's time?"

What else they could have done with the time is an unanswerable question. I mean, the answer is "anything at all".

I liked the way it was handled. We knew *roughly* where the movie would end, but the idea that it would end *precisely* at the setup of Ep4 was a surprise twist. Further: it was introduced at the right point -- the primary plot challenges were all wrapped up, the primary characters are dead, and what's left is a struggle of nameless rebels against Darth Vader. We know the plot-Force is with the rebels, so it's a pro-forma chase scene. But right about then I realized what they were doing, so the movie had the added tension of "how are they going to make it *match*" on top of "how will these rebels get away from the unstoppable psycho with the light saber".

Yes, it was meta, but it worked for me. When the familiar blockade-runner ship popped out it was a genuinely "yay, they did it" moment.

#43 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 22, 2016, 11:00 PM:

Will Frank @13, j h woodyatt@41:

The Nazi implications of the Empire were obvious from the start: LucasFilm refused to allow David Lance Goines and Pacific Film Archive to use a different version of this poster from 1980 for a special advance screening of The Empire Strikes Back, so it was redone for the film Wings. They thought the Nazi imagery was too blatant. Goines told me of this in passing, and I'm not sure there's other documentation out there, but I believe the story.

#44 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2016, 08:39 AM:

jh @40 re tentacle thing:

You're right. I just wish he'd been a little less immediately OK. The point you say (and I think you're right) they're making would have been better made if he hadn't cleared up as soon as someone spoke to him for a minute.

#46 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2016, 12:30 PM:

There are scenes in the later parts of the saga that could have been lifted from news footage OR Leni Riefenstahl's "Triumph of the Will" -- so the Nazi comparisons were baked-in from the get-go...

#47 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2016, 05:00 PM:

Oh, fucking fuck 2016.
Carrie Fisher suffers ‘massive’ heart attack on flight from London to LAX: TMZ

Reportedly in critical condition.

#48 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2016, 06:25 PM:

And the latest report is that she's at UCLA Medical and on a ventilator.

#49 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2016, 08:34 PM:

Nothing Deep or Meaningful to offer here:

Visuals I loved (well most of them, but especially): Vader's castle (Barad-dûr, yes! With a side of Syndrome's base). The archipelago base. ("They bought it on the cheap from the Sultan of Dubai after the economy crashed.") But especially the ringed planet and the Death Star, and the way the orbiting ships would suddenly pop into view as they came out of shadow.

On CGIing of deceased (or otherwise unavailable-for-the-role) actors: I really hope SAG's rules on use-of-likeness are up to speed. I see a lot of potential for infringement here. A whole new IP specialty! But also a lot of artistic potential, too.

I enjoyed it, but I didn't find myself getting terribly invested, though. ('Cept for the pilot. Totally crushing on him!) Didn't help that I found the plot line a bit cluttered, muddy, and unsettled. Part of that, I think, was that the stitching-together of the different scales (setting long shots to character close-ups) was a little choppy, it seemed to me. I found it hard to orient in a scene's spacial environment. LOVED the concept art. I particularly liked the rock mound that resolved into a fallen statue. (Though it was laying on its left side in one shot, and on its right in a later shot. It was unclear to me if that was a continuity error, or if there was more than one statue.)

I think the final outcome would have worked better for me had our election had a different result. :-\ Those final scenes of the expanding nuclear fire-ball are just...a teensy bit too close to some of the anxieties I'm feeling about our current political climate for comfort. What's interesting is that nearly all of those story decisions were almost certainly made long before our current "adventure" began, I'm sure.

CGI Tarkin: I was pleasantly surprised. For my money, the CGI is about 95% there. The failure had more, I think, to do with the animation than the actual rendering. Rendering fail: the lips are still just a teeny bit too stiff. (Dude! More res around the mouth!) Animation fail: there were micro-expressions around Tarkin's eyes and inner ends of the eyebrows that looked like the animator's decision; didn't quite work for me or read as Cushing; didn't ring true. Leia wasn't as convincing; I'm glad she didn't have more than a few seconds on screen. (But I was tickled that she was there.)

Interestingly, the reason Tarkin worked better than Leia for me calls back to my experience doing portraiture: it's because of the ages of the actors. I've found it much easier to get a convincing likeness with an older, more angular, more weathered face than it is with a younger, smoother, rounder face. More landmarks to hang recognition and character/personality off of.* (Also: Leia needed much more effing res around the mouth!! Also, her smile didn't quite ring true for me, either.)

I liked the way they set up the hand-off between R1 and A New Hope. A matter of hours (story time), probably between the end of one and the start of the other.

* Trek TOS fan-art (and pro-art, for that matter) bears this out. Spock (Nimoy) is easy. It's hard not to make him recognizable. Kirk (Shatner) is really fucking hard. It isn't until Shatner ages some that he becomes comparatively easy to capture.

abi @11: Different people's uncanny valleys work differently, because brains.

David Goldfarb @18: article I read online that expressed disbelief that anyone might have found CGI!Tarkin convincing

<process/perception geek>I'm always fascinated by how perception is impacted by expectations, context, experience, and skill set. I would wager that cgi professionals, with their experience and knowledge of the technical details of cgi and motion-capture, will find Tarkin far less compelling than I (even with my experience as a portrait artist, who is fascinated by the minutiae of facial structure and mannerism) would, who in turn find it less compelling than someone who doesn't know Tarkin is cgi, or someone who does know, and has a slot for that ready in their brain. Or somebody is so completely wrapped up in the story that they don't have attention free for meta-analysis/critique. Or someone who just isn't interested in that level of detail.

I'm reminded of the Pixar story of "The Adventures of André and Wally B". When they originally showed it at SIGGRAPH (IIRC), it wasn't quite finished, and there's a segment where the bee was still rendered only in wireframe. And nobody noticed because the audience was so gobsmacked by this new astonishing thing they were being presented with.

This phenomenon is closely related to going back and watching old special effects spectaculars and finding the fx clunky and unconvincing, because the state of the art has moved so far since it was made.</geek>

Howard Bannister @21: Alan Tudyk's work with voice-acting

Oh, that's where he was! We noticed his name in the credits, but I hadn't twigged until I saw it. (His voice isn't distinct enough for me to spot out of context.)

Stephen Rochelle @22: super-poor-current-tech

My friend and I were snickering about the Economy Size Storage Tech Tape Silo.

@47: Oh, God DAMN it all to Hell!

#50 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2016, 11:56 PM:

dotless ı @ #45:

Not the first version of that joke I've seen, but it gets bonus points from me for the speculation about what Mark Hamill's costume changes might mean for his character arc.

#51 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2016, 12:40 AM:

Finally saw it and enjoyed it. What struck me as interesting was how much of the music was in minors: they seemed to be trying to set up the tragic ending from the very first musical notes. I haven't seen music used that well very often.

And aside from all the Episode IV references, I liked the visual reference to Laputa of K2-SO -- he looks so much like the robots from there in head shape, with slightly less exaggerated limb length but still overlong. And Tudyk did a wonderful job with him, indeed.

I did not find the CGI particularly distracting. And I heard one moviegoer as we were leaving say that it was just an actor who looked a great deal like him, so it's definitely not triggering everyone's "uncanny valley" sensors.

#52 ::: rm ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2016, 01:54 PM:

#47: Dammit.

I loved the movie in general, but I am disappointed to have to agree with some critics that Jyn's character isn't developed, so hard to get too involved with. I hate to read those critics who I assume must be voicing sexist assumptions about the possibility of a female protagonist without any romantic connections. Some of the critics deserve that, but unfortunately I don't think the final cut of the film gave us enough of Jyn's character either.

I don't know what they cut, and I have no clue what goes on with Forest Whitaker's character in the animated TV stuff, but in the movie itself he is an unnecessary complication, and her relationship to him is not shown. Instead of seeing how he raised her, how she fought with him, how he left her to be put in prison, we get a short scene of them telling each other what happened. Show, don't tell, film people!! Geez.

As it is, we have the idea that she is apolitical and only motivated by family concerns, then we learn in conversation that she was a Rebel fighter in her past, and it's all a muddle. This great female protagonist deserved more attention that went to very very long battle scenes instead.

#53 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2016, 03:09 PM:

Tom Whitmore @51: "I liked the visual reference to Laputa of K2-SO"

Ooh, good point.

rm @52: "I hate to read those critics who I assume must be voicing sexist assumptions about the possibility of a female protagonist without any romantic connections."

This is where the comparison to TFA is fruitful. Rey's life and character are portrayed effectively and economically at the beginning of that movie, and I was immediately on her side as a protagonist. (Same with Finn, really.) Jyn didn't succeed the same way.

(I have seen a bit of Clone Wars, but not the episodes with the younger Saw Gererra.)

#54 ::: Sten Thaning ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2016, 04:59 PM:

I never noticed that Tarkin was CGI-ed. Interesting. I wonder if that is related to my rather severe case of face blindness.

Now I'm off to look for some kind of "CGI or real human?" test.

#55 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: December 24, 2016, 08:06 PM:

rm @52: it's all a muddle.

I heard, Back In The Day, that one of the things that really saved ANH was Marcia Lucas's editing. If I had to pick one major failing for R1, that would be it.

#56 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2016, 07:58 AM:

Pretty much what I was expecting, all in all. I think Jyn's character was at least (if not more) developed than Luke's in "A New Hope".

I was fearing they'd do the cheesy "spaceship out of nowhere last second rescue" at the end, but was (un?)pleasantly delighted that they didn't.

I found Tarkin to be occasionally "something is NOT right here", and sometimes very believable. I suspected "lots of make-up, some amount of CGI" (and there's an actor listed for Tarkin that, if nothing else, probably provided a basis for the animation rig).

I could quite believe Tarkin being on the Death Star, if you're trying to get an underling fired for incompetence, so you can take the project over, you are much, MUCH better suited to take over if you're the person on the spot, rather than elsewhere and needing to fly in.

Weirdly, this is the very first time I recall hearing about the Khyber^WCyber^WKyber crystals,

Am I likely to rewatch it anytime soon? No, I should probably watch The Force Awakens a second time before I watch this a second time.

#57 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: December 25, 2016, 08:14 AM:

Ingvar M @ #56:

Kyber crystals have been a thing in the spin-offs for years, but I'm pretty sure this is the first time they've been mentioned in one of the feature films.

#58 ::: Bruce ::: (view all by) ::: December 26, 2016, 02:02 PM:

56- 'I could quite believe Tarkin being on the Death Star. If you are trying to get an underling fired-'

If if you want to shoot an underling, and you are cool with collateral damage, the Death Star has a gun.

Liked the bog-trotter accents on the good guys.

#59 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2016, 08:48 PM:

(finally saw it this afternoon, haven't finished reading this thread yet)

On the CGI front, I hadn't realized that either Tarkin or Leia were CGI. My thought on Tarkin was roughly, "Isn't he dead? I guess not." Leia looked right enough that I wondered if that bit was an outtake from the first movie; when I saw an actress listed in the credits as Leia, I figured that they'd found someone who looks a lot like a young Carrie Fisher and made her up extremely well.

(off to get caught up on the rest of this)

#60 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: December 27, 2016, 08:55 PM:

I was not expecting the "everybody dies" ending. About halfway through, I started wondering if Jyn was Rey's mother. Obviously not.

But they look so much alike that I hadn't twigged from the early promotional photos that this wasn't following on from The Force Awakens. (I avoided spoilers as much as possible, but once the movie was out, I did learn basically what it was.)

#61 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2016, 10:38 AM:

Howard Bannister @ 28

I figured it was old/not-quite-obsolete tech on the base. I noticed the data storage devices kept getting smaller with each copy made and handed off. The transfers were getting faster, too. At least, that jives with my 6.5" floppy to 3.25" floppy to CD/DVD to thumb drives experience regarding transfer of archival data between storage medias. After all the Death Star project was years overdue. Data storage improvements don't wait on megalomania.

Then there was the directionality of the signal. Tight-beam/pin-beam transmission anyone? After all, these are SECRET documents kept under lock and key.

#62 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2016, 07:20 PM:

I saw this last night and consider it to be emotionally satisfying: the good guys die, but they win. That's not inconsiderable.

Random thought: Actually destroying Alderaan is overkill. If you can destroy everyone on a planet with a small targeted strike, actually destroying the rock is just showboating.

FACT: Per my son's Star Wars character encyclopedia, Kylo Ren's plasma blade is unstable due to its cracked kyber crystal (which is why it has the "crossguards"; they're vents for the excess energies.)

SPECULATION: Because the principle power source for both Death Stars is kyber crystals, and because they've basically stripped every known source of kyber crystals to power them, when they're blown up, that pretty much removes the known crystals from circulation. Kylo Ren has a dual reason to want Luke's old lightsaber. It's not just Anakin's lightsaber; it's perhaps one of the few intact kyber crystals left.

#63 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2016, 09:02 PM:

There's now a report that Debbie Reynolds has died.

#64 ::: D. Potter ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2016, 10:12 PM:

P J Evans @63: It's true.

#65 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2016, 11:05 PM:

B. Durbin @62: "Actually destroying Alderaan is overkill."

We knew that from the basic physics. (Handwaving the question of whether applying basic physics to Star Wars is silly.)

Nearly all of the energy of the Death Star goes into pushing boiling-hot rocks away from each other -- overcoming the gravitational attraction of the once-planet. Leaving them as a planet-sized mass of hot rocks would be just as effective for way less oomph.

#66 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: December 28, 2016, 11:47 PM:

Also, because it went by my feed and I thought it was good:

Leia Organa: A Critical Obituary

(In-character remembrance of General Organa.)

(Will almost certainly be Jossed by one of the upcoming movies; I figure that they'll write Leia out in a more dramatic way than "died after a short illness". However, for present canon, it's right on.)

#67 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2016, 09:35 AM:

Imagining a brief glimpse of a CGI General Organa on the bridge of a ship, which heroically covers a retreat of refugee ships and goes down fighting.

Young Ben gasps and staggers.

#68 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2016, 10:43 AM:

Overall, I enjoyed the movie. It was fun, and it did an excellent job of capturing the aesthetic of the original movie without making it look goofy.

Everything was set up so that everyone dies at the end worked and worked well. It was a right ending (not the right ending, but a right ending). I figured that's the way they'd go, if for no other reason than we'd never heard of any of these characters before. Yes, the Galaxy is a big place, yes, there are plenty of independent and interdependent stories that don't revolve around the Skywalker clan and their friends, and, yes, the Rebellion would be well served with at least a partial independent cell structure. But still.

The tentacle monster that usually makes you go mad, but really just leaves you slightly loopy so long as a somewhat sympathetic spymaster makes the effort of talking to you could have been fixed with a couple of lines of dialog.

Could have done with a bit more character development on Jyn Erso's part. Not that Luke really had much character development either, but Luke was always on the path to adventure. Jyn didn't want to, and then suddenly was full-on Rebel, so I can't help but wonder if something was lost in rewrites or editing. Also, not sure where she got all that eyeliner when she was in prison. I did very much appreciate that the relationship that grew between her and Cassian Andor was one of respect and not an instantly romantic one. Could also have done with a lot more women in the movie, and definitely more than only Jyn in the main group. And they'd done so well in TFA, too.

Tarkin was just on the wrong side of the uncanny valley for me. He looked like very good CGI, but moved slightly oddly. It didn't help that he appeared even more cadaverous to me than Peter Cushing did in the original movie, possibly due to the lighting, and reminded me more of Anton Ego from Ratatouille. (Fun filming fact: Peter Cushing didn't like the uniform boots, so, unless they had to be visible for the shot, he wore slippers on set.)

I am somewhat annoyed that the movie appears to confirm they've jettisoned the digraph-replacement characters from Aurebesh, but that's another issue.

#69 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: December 29, 2016, 06:27 PM:

The scriptwriters pretty clearly don't use Aurabesh at all; otherwise the cute soccerball droid would have been Besh-besh-eight...

#70 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2016, 07:58 PM:

...if he'd been called anything of the sort at all, since he's clearly named after his shape and there aren't any letters or numerals in Aurabesh that echo that shape the way B and 8 do.

#71 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2016, 08:57 PM:

I loved the film as a whole, but every time CG Mon Mothma or Tarkin or Leia showed up, it kicked me right the hell out of the story. SO UNNECESSARY.

#72 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: December 31, 2016, 11:31 PM:

I expected to feel "uncanny valley" with Tarkin, after hearing how they were bringing him back for this movie, but for me he came off as surprisingly convincing. (It might be different for people who saw it in 3D-- we watched in 2D-- or with better vision or facial analysis than I have.)

Oddly, the old-character appearance that seemed the most off to me when I saw the movie earlier today was actually Darth Vader, in the first scene where we see him in full dress. I don't know if it was the costume or the way the actor who replaced David Prowse moved, but there was something less substantial than I expected about him when he walked around in that first scene. He seemed for a bit to me more like someone in a Darth Vader costume than Darth Vader himself.

(I didn't feel that in the scenes at the end of the movie, though; his fighting the rebels with the Force was wonderfully convincing. But it was also a scene where the darkness and fog obscure his form more than the earlier scene did.)

#73 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2017, 01:58 AM:

Lila @71 mentioned "CG Mon Mothma". One should be clear that Mon Mothma was not CGI at all. The movie took the old-fashioned tack of casting someone who looked the part.

The actress, Genevieve O'Reilly, was originally cast as Mon Mothma in Ep3, but didn't wind up on-screen very much in that movie.

#74 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2017, 09:33 AM:

John Mark Ockerbloom @ #72:

I had that reaction to Darth Vader's first appearance, too.

#75 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2017, 11:45 AM:

Andrew Plotkin @#73, wow, okay. So either it was something about the lighting (admittedly weird) or just the fact that it was a different but very similar-looking person that bothered me.

I am definitely not typical in my perception of faces, however. Not full-on face-blind, but I have a lot of trouble recognizing people I don't know well.

#76 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2017, 01:33 PM:

John @72, Paul @74:

My observation at the initial appearance of Vader was that as he walked, the row of buttons and switches on the front panel of his suit moved in a very non-Prousean way. It wasn't much, but it was enough to distract me and think "this is different".

#77 ::: Buddha Buck ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2017, 01:39 PM:

It would be nice to get an authoritative list of CGI characters in Rogue One. I read somewhere that one of the X-Wing pilots was also CGI due to the death a few years ago of the original actor.

Mon Mothma didn't look CGI to me, but I was also not familiar enough with the character to be hit by the differences between this actor and the old one. I thought they did an impressive job of making her look the same. It didn't occur to me until reading this thread that it was a different actor (or CGI). In retrospect, I don't think I thought it was the same actor, but more that I didn't question it at all.

#78 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2017, 09:33 PM:

B. Durbin #62: Random thought: Actually destroying Alderaan is overkill. If you can destroy everyone on a planet with a small targeted strike, actually destroying the rock is just showboating.

Especially since the trope "there is only one place on a planet" is still in force.

#79 ::: estelendur ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2017, 01:34 PM:

Mon Mothma struck me as very different-looking from the original actress, but I also haven't paid enough attention to her character in the original trilogy to have a clear internal image of how she should look. So because it was obvious to me that she was a different actress, I assumed that Tarkin and Leia were different actors as well.

#80 ::: Charlie Dodgson ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2017, 02:25 PM:

The X-wing pilots were neither CGI nor new footage; they were unused alternate takes from the original Star Wars (not yet "A New Hope"), rotoscoped into new CGI that was effectively rendered around them.

#81 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2017, 03:23 PM:

Buddha Buck@76: I think I had the same reaction, and for some reason it bothered me at the time more than either Tarkin or Leia.

#82 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: January 07, 2017, 08:54 PM:

John Mark Ockerbloom @ 72 I felt that same dubiousness seeing Vader for the first time. My read on it is that the Vader costume, while iconic, is also a bit dated. While Rogue One's set and costume design does an excellent job of capturing the Star Wars feel, it is still a product of today's aesthetic, and against that backdrop Vader seemed a bit--crudely drawn. Not enough fine detail, in order to take advantage of HD.

I had a similar reaction to Vader's castle, which makes sense if it is also based on ANH-era sketches.

In general, I'm having a hard time reconciling how glad I am that they didn't set up two sequels with the same cast, and how disappointed I am by the same thing.

#83 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: February 11, 2017, 09:54 PM:

Finally got around to seeing it.

What bugged me most about Tarkin is how he was always in sharp focus, unlike everyone else in his scenes.

#84 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2017, 02:06 PM:

Episcopal theologian catches a cinematic reference in the final scenes which went right past me.

#85 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2017, 05:35 PM:

We had a Planet of the Apes trailer, and to me, the face skin right around Tarkin's mouth moves "wrongly" in exactly the same way the faces of the apes do -- and the way the face of CGI Yoda did.

It's like their face flesh is sliding slightly in relationship to their skulls in a way I don't expect.

#86 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 04, 2017, 08:43 AM:

An interesting article from WikiaFandom: K-2SO and the Illusion of Droid Choice in ‘Rogue One’.

My basic take on it is that yeah, if you've got social AIs working and can reasonably claim the ability to "reprogram" them, then you implicitly are able choose their priorities.

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#87 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2017, 09:58 AM:

There is no evidence that anyone does back up droid memories, however. They're like teenagers; they partake of two natures and they're always treated according to the one that's worse for them in any given context.

#88 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2017, 10:26 AM:

I also thought the Vader costume's neck had some kind of stiff rubber turtleneck going on, that strongly constrained the actor's ability to emote through body language. It kept bulging out in a way that the original costume didn't.

#89 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2017, 10:45 AM:

Droid personality, intelligence, and free will in Star Wars have always been rather problematic. We're talking about a galactic society that has been capable of creating human-like machine intelligences for thousands of years, and that sees no problem with turning that into a commercial product with all the commodification and disposability that entails. People own said creations, and wipe their memories on a whim. The manufacturers give intelligence to even the most inappropriate things, including what are essentially fork lifts and battery chargers. I wouldn't be surprised if some company thought that jamming a droid brain into a toaster (à la the Talkie Toaster from Red Dwarf) was a good idea.

C-3PO's memory wipe at the end of Revenge of the Sith is played for laughs, not the existential horror that it is. Mowing down battle droids by the hundreds is perfectly fine to show the kiddies, because they're machines. It's perfectly all right reprogram K-2SO to be a snarky Rebellion killing machine, because he was initially created to be an Imperial killing machine.

In the old Star Wars expanded universe, before Disney took over, the Rebellion had droid rights as one of its planks. I have no idea where that stands now with Disney's take on things. Still, Leia didn't have any problem with turning C-3PO off when he got really annoying in Empire.

I maintain that one of the big reasons that Star Wars continues to drive creativity and discussion is because it managed to combine primal emotional stories and gorgeous visuals with truly thoughtless worldbuilding. People want to engage with that to fill in the details and make it make sense. The droid intelligence issue is one of the many facets of this.

#90 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2017, 07:12 PM:

In #89 KeithS writes:

In the old Star Wars expanded universe, before Disney took over, the Rebellion had droid rights as one of its planks. I have no idea where that stands now with Disney's take on things.

A corporation that owns a raft of profitable droids-- including several Founding Fathers!-- in Florida might well be reluctant to consider a positive stance on Droid Rights.

#91 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 06, 2017, 09:13 PM:

KiethS #89 I maintain that one of the big reasons that Star Wars continues to drive creativity and discussion is because it managed to combine primal emotional stories and gorgeous visuals with truly thoughtless worldbuilding. People want to engage with that to fill in the details and make it make sense.


#92 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2017, 09:02 AM:

I finally saw this movie under interesting circumstances a few days ago, on the Friday of Mother's Day weekend, with my kid and my kid's mom. We've been mostly cordially separated for going on eight years now, and I made some effort to get there to see it with them.

The specific circumstance we saw it in was a strangely dissonant fortieth anniversary event at the public library near where they live. It ran from six till the movie, which started at seven-thirty was over, and began with crafts and cupcakes and kid stuff. Little kid stuff which my kid, who was one of the two teenagers there, enjoyed helping the really little kids with. The announcement on the library's website noted that this was a PG-13 movie and yet I think most of those parents didn't quite understand what movie they were going to see.

As my kid's mom pointed out later, the little kids were either too young to quite get the action or just old enough to get the stuff going splodey, so that was probably okay, but I wonder how many of the parents got the same feels that I got from it.

Seeing all those little kids there, playing unspoiled and innocent, with this movie going on above their heads.

I, too, was completely unspoiled going into the movie.*

It was totally convincing. I had no idea there was any CGI trickery or casting wizardry going on. I was sold, beginning to end.

Seeing Jyn and her parents get the chance to run that Luke and his aunt and uncle did not get, that just killed me.

Realizing after the movie that strange encounter played out exactly as the parents had planned, all the way down to the mom knowingly getting killed to buy a little more time for the kid to get away, having a dead shot on Krennic that she blew on purpose in order to keep him in place as a useful tool who hadn't figured out the father wasn't truly necessary, all so the father could spend fifteen years doing wrong in the hope of one right act at the end, one he had little reason to believe would succeed, that resonated with me.

I mean, they had years to plan it out, and moments to make it look good, and they did it, and I should have known how the movie would end right then. This was so much like A New Hope in so many ways, except for everyone dying, that it rang loud and true for me.

All I could see in that movie was myself and what family I have and the world we currently inhabit.

You know that scene in John Barnes' The Armies of Memory where Shan's father buys him an ice cream cone? It's the kid's mom who turned me on to Barnes and bought me that book. I'm buying as many ice cream cones as often as I can right now.

I don't think that was necessarily the movie I wanted to see, and I know it's not the movie I thought I was going to see, but I think it was the movie I needed to see and the movie people need to have at this time. Every now and then an artist reaches into the zeitgeist and pulls out something weird and strange and richly timed, and I think this movie is as perfectly strange as Bob Dylan's Love and Theft coming out on 9/11 and saying "I came ashore in the dead of night/A lot of things can get in the way when you're trying to do what's right".

On the way to the kid's and the kid's mom's home after the movie, we were talking about something, I forget exactly what, something current, and I had occasion to say to the kid, "Rebellions are built on hope," neither ironically or sarcastically but with a catch in my throat.

One of the things before the movie was buttons with various symbols on them. All three of us had picked buttons with the rebel insignia.

When we got to their home and I settled into the guest room, I looked for the bag of buttons I'd taken from my folks' house.

I already had my #IllGoWithYou button and my Love Each Other Motherfuckers button on my hat. I put the rebellion button on it. Then I put on my Rock Against Racism 1979 Militant Entertainment Tour button, and my Elvis Costello making a fist button, and my Martin Luther King button from 1984, back before he was okay to like in polite company, and my old IWW button with the guy behind bars saying We're In Here For You/You're Out There For Us. I later added my Cooley/Hood 2016 button. I think I'm ready as I can be.

All that is probably a little too much, and of course it isn't nearly enough, but it feels just about right to me.

*Something I cannot say about The Force Awakens, which I still have not seen.

#93 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2017, 01:04 PM:

"I think it was the movie I needed to see and the movie people need to have at this time."

R1 came out at what seems like a really fucking dark time. Left the movie misting up, exhilarated, feeling like my spine had a titanium allow stiffener upgrade.

* * *
My mother & aunt, both in their 80s, saw R1 the other week. Mom says she enjoyed it; thought that Princess Laia at the end was an actress.

I'm encouraging her to borrow the original SW film from my sister, to see how clever this lead-in story was.

#94 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: May 21, 2017, 07:45 PM:

I rewatched the original Star Wars movie recently and was astonished by just how many tie-ins there are. I'd remembered some of them, like how the original movie complicates Rogue One's job by referring to both "transmissions" and "tapes" when talking about the stolen plans, but others I'd forgotten. I thought when I watched Rogue One that the scene where Mon Mothma and Bail Organa decide to send Leia to recruit Obi Wan was a retcon, but no, in the original movie Leia explicitly says that her father sent her to Tatooine for that purpose.

Another thing: I said further up in this thread that I found Darth Vader's body language and presence lacking in Rogue One, but rewatching the original trilogy I found the discrepancy isn't nearly as great as I thought. The Darth Vader in my head, it turns out, is the one in Return of the Jedi, and that's something he grows into over the course of the trilogy; he's got significantly less gravitas in the first movie.

#95 ::: Quixal ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2019, 01:26 PM:

Late enough to count as some kind of necromancy, my thoughts in response to comment 89:

On K-2SO,and the implications of his reprogramming, I suspect droids are kept on the verge of sentience due to regular wipes. Personality and such are the result of being left well enough alone. So your typical well maintained droid is not self-aware. This handily sidesteps the question of slavery, if in way that is in turn just as questionable, while leaving room for sentient droids with personalities. And perhaps explaining why it is the fringes of society that have droids with personality.

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