Rogue One: A Star Wars Story: A Bradscribe Review

State Your Elation For The Record:

This Rogue Is The One To Rave About!

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“The first thing that you have to do is get over the fact that you’re doing a scene with Darth Vader. That took me a little while, because I’m a first-generation fanboy” – Ben Mendelsohn.

One of the many disappointments with Star wars Episode III is that it denied our chance to see how the Rebel spies stole the Death Star plans.

For TOO LONG has yours truly revelled in the intrigue induced by the legendary scrawl:

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…and wondered how that premise would… (eventually?) make such a great movie…

And here it is! It only took three and a half decades for delivery.

Like the seemingly impossible mission for which this ragtag band a’ rebels volunteer, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story defies the odds to present such a welcome addition to the galaxy’s greatest saga.

Well! Where do we begin?!

A big fist-pump to this band of lovable rogues. They represent a superior Suicide Squad: more thrilling and thankfully less puerile. We do end up caring about their fate, which seemed to be the ultimate challenge here.

Quite frankly, Felicity Jones is a revelation as Jyn, galactic tearaway and daughter of Galen Erso, the reluctant creator of the Empire’s new superweapon. Admittedly, Jones looks an unlikely action star, but she pulls it off with aplomb. 

By far the best of the main bunch are Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yenstill can’t believe he fits so well in this galaxy!) and Baze Malbus (Wen Jiang) – the fighters from Jedha. 

Love the relationship between Cassian and Kaytoo, although this charming lil plot device was crying out for further attention and development. Considering what an obvious win the reprogrammed Imperial droid turned out to be, he deserved greater opportunities to scene-steal. (If they couldn’t grant him more lines, at least give him that blaster!). 

Still reckon that Diego Luna makes a way cooler Star Wars name than Cassian Andor…

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“That’s right, I’m playing the male lead! I didn’t really think that would be such a big deal…” – Felicity Jones.

The main problem with SF these days is that sfx have reached such stupendous levels, other elements such as plot and character development sometimes tend to fail in comparison. But Rogue One overrides that problem – all elements fuse reasonably well to produce something that is undeniably enjoyable. 

Here, the effects are suitably grandiose and awe-inspiring, from the graceful flights of the supersleek spacecraft(s) to the simply stunning vistas of Jedha and Mauritiuis – (sorry!) Scarif.

What about the aliens? 

Sorely underused – a personal gripe. For my Rough Guidequite tactfully, details relating to Pao and Bishan were dropped. Naturally assuming that they might not receive too much screen-time, they didn’t even get a word in – not even an indecipherable one! Between them!

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“I’d have loved to have taken a Stormtrooper outfit but we weren’t meant to take anything. I got away with a couple of small things but I can’t tell you what” – Mads Mikkelsen. 

Of the Imperial personnel, Ben Mendelsohn is particularly impressive as Director Orson Krennic. 

It was wonderful to see that well-known (well-despised?) officer from A New Hope make a dramatic reappearance. Was expecting to burst into tears upon catching sight of this beloved actor, but, just when you think how sophisticated CGI has become – let’s face it – he doesn’t look natural! No real presence = no credible menace. Moreover, they did not get the voice right!

But what about Vader?!

Surely, this film could never have worked without everyone’s fave Sith Lord. The build-up to his long-waited “return” is tense; his first scene (shared with Krennic) presents him in typically moody and magnificent mode.

His second scene?

Deep breath: WHOA! He REALLY gets busy – showing a Dark Side darker than anyone had ever expected! This is REVENGE of the Sith right here! 

Aren’t we so grateful that James Earl Jones could lend his esteemed vocal talents to Star Wars once more!

Sadly, however, the rest of the Imperial Officers are just anonymous. 

Is it possible to have a Star wars movie without a John Williams score? Some fans may argue that Rogue One does not feel right, precisely because of that vital exclusion. The music here is rousing enough, especially the mystic twang played when the proceedings reach Jedha.

As these rogues are rougher, the action more gritty, the dogfights more spectacular, for me, Rogue One is bigger and better than The Force Awakens.

There have been a few five-star reviews appearing in the last two days. Obviously, those critics have enjoyed the exhilarating ride that uberfan Gareth Edwards (the force is strong with him!) has concocted here, but, to be fair, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story falls short of the brilliant standard of The Empire Strikes Back – a veritable 5* package if ever there was one. 

The power of what we are dealing with here may be immeasurable to some, but this first-generation fanboy is pleased (relieved!) to bestow upon it a solid:

4-out-of-5

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“For my 30th birthday, we visited the Skywalker home in Tunisia. I stood at the same spot where Luke watched the sunset. My girlfriend said: “For your 40th birthday, you won’t be able to top this!” For my 40th birthday, I was directing Rogue One…” – Gareth Edwards. 

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100th Post! Full Circle: “There’s Something Familiar About This Place”

What Can We Expect When The Force Awakens This Thursday? 

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“The secrecy has been beyond ludicrous. For heaven’s sake, it’s a movie. When I got the script it was typed in black on paper of the deepest red so you couldn’t photocopy it…” – Anthony Daniels. 

It’s May 1980.

A new Star Wars movie is just DAYS away. 

An all-consuming swirl of excitement and curiosity warps my infant mind. ‘CAN’T WAIT!!’ is the only – albeit frantic – message my brain will process. It’s impossible to do anything else. How can a second Star Wars movie hope to be (half) as good as the one all of us at school know and love?!

At the cinema, once the Battle of Hoth gets spectacularly under way, all our expectations are met. And then some, as we are thrilled by the AT-ATs, giggle at Yoda (before realising how powerful he was) and gawp at the climactic lightsabre duel. My generation cannot believe their eyes! Or their luck. 

(Fortunately, Dad took me to the cinema five times to help satisfy my cravings for fun, frills, fx and Fett. Actually, we managed to see The Empire Strikes Back only three times, including the much-heralded double-bill – the infamous FULL HOUSE sign was strategically placed outside the main doors twice).

This is not just a smash-hit movie, but a monumental phenomenon! No other movie matters. 

Now that the release of the Most Anticipated Movie of the Decade is imminent, there is an eerie sense of deja vu – the fanfare is cranked up to maximum; the teensiest gobbets of information are trundled out; photos of the stars suddenly become ubiquitous across all media; and – oh yes – the merchandise is being trundled out ad infinitum. Honestly, it feels like 1980 all over again. 

“I sense something. The presence I have not felt since…”

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“If you are telling a continuous story, as we are, then all the episodes have to fit together to form a cohesive piece, and this middle act – The Empire Strikes Back – has to be a slower and more sombre piece in a way…” – Gary Kurtz.  

“It is a dark time for the Rebellion,” so began the legendary scrawl for Episiode V. “Although the Death Star has been destroyed, Imperial troops have driven the Rebel forces from their hidden base and-” 

And you’re thinking: Hang on! Major Bummer! What – and how much(!) – did we miss?! One minute our heroes are receiving medals and the next… they’re hiding in an igloo on one forlorn side of the galaxy(!) How did that happen?! This infant and millions of others of course – demanded a full report. It felt like we had got into the cinema way too late…  

“There’s been an Awakening. Have you felt it?”

Yeah, fella, but – yet again – we feel as though we’ve joined this brand new Episode way too late. Not only have thirty years passed since we last saw our happy heroes in the forest of Endor, but thirty years have passed in this galaxy. In that time, the apparently epic Battle of Jakku was waged, the remnants of the Empire reformed – relatively swiftly – into the First Order i.e. it’s a dark time for the rebellion (now the “Resistance”) once more. So, that party with the Ewoks was all for nothing…

One of the more enigmatic figures to emerge has been Kylo Ren (played by Adam Driver). He’s not a Sith, but affiliated with a mysterious sect known as the Order of Ren. Ever since we first glimpsed him staggering through a snow-covered forest energising his fearsome, yet crude, red cross-guard lightsabre, SW fans have speculated who he might be, especially since seeing Vader’s battered helmet in his possession.

The most telling fact is that he works for a character known as Supreme Leader Snoke: “who is a powerful figure on the dark side of the Force,” yet to be revealed, but we know it will be the latest motion-capture performance by Andy Serkis (a personal fave at this blog), responsible for providing the sinister narration for SW:VII’s first trailer.

As a supercool bonus: we have the chrome-clad Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie) to savour as well! And watch out for Maz Kanata, (another CGI character played by Lupita Nyong’o): “a pirate who dwells in a castle populated by all manner of aliens and assorted scum.”  

Some intriguing aspects to look forward to…

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“I went up to Skywalker Ranch and they told me they were gonna do more Star Wars movies… So here I am. I got to write for Harrison Ford again after 30 years…” – Lawrence Kasdan. 

Inevitably, the background story of Anakin Skywalker – the Jedi who became a Sith Lord – received the prequel trilogy treatment. Naturally, as one of the original fans, there was a certain curiosity to find out how it all came together. But, oh boy… Talk about having a bad feeling…

There was absolutely no way multitudes of heartbroken fans like us could unlearn the travesty we learned back in 1999. Moreover, in 2002, Episode II did NOT correct the ills of its forebear: no! It succeeded in being an even more painful experience to endure.

This time, though, with reliable Star Wars aficianado JJ Abrams at the helm, particular attention to the visuals – and the script (so glad to see Lawrence Kasdan back onboard) – has been honoured; so far, the clips and stills look impressive – most promisingly, a return to the more practical special effects we know and love is assured.

The first trailer was good, but it wasn’t until the second trailer when my eyes widened – and my jaw dropped – as the camera panned along to this shot: 

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At this point came the realization that something quite special was in the works. Maybe, just maybe, the old magic will be invoked. And why not now? After all, 2015 has been the Year of Nostalgia; with dinosaurs and Terminators making a comeback, it seems fitting that we should be treated to the (ahem) return of the Jedi. 

So, huzzah, 35 years later, we have come full circle. Not surprisingly, advance ticket sales have broken all records. It would be amusing – not to mention, astounding – to learn that my ol’ popcorn parlour has had to dust down its FULL HOUSE sign…

For me, the excitement felt yesteryear may have faded – the memories of those wretched prequels still gnaw at my advancing cranium – but an unashamed desire to find out how the saga that not only captivated but redefined popular culture continues has shone through. 

At least, we all feel more confident now than we ever did back in 1999. And 2002 for that matter… 

It’s December 2015.

A new Star Wars movie is just DAYS away.

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No other movie matters…

 

IN OTHER NEWS:

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Yay! Made it to the Big 1-0-0! Couldn’t be happier!

Believe it or not: this is actually the first time that this blog has appeared during the month of December. The last two years the coming of December meant recharging my batteries over the festive period, but now – especially after having struggled through a rather uncompromising and uncreative November – the need to carry on writing grips me more than ever.

It would be nice to take this opp to express how awesome it’s been to meet so many other amazing bloggers on my wild yet wonderful jaunt through the blogosphere these past two years. 

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

Honestly, this blog would not/could not have made it this far without all your support.

So, what should we do next?

Something good?

Something Brad?

Bit of both…?

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A bit of both! 

 

Bradscribe will return. 

Towering Influence: A Tribute To A Larger Than Life Legend

 

Richard Kiel: 13 September 1939 – 10 September 2014

1977, THE SPY WHO LOVED ME

“Well, they don’t really need an actor, he’s more a monster part… I said if I were to play the part, I want to give the character some human characteristics, like perseverance, frustration” – Richard Kiel.

At 7 ft 2 in tall, Richard Kiel, who has died at the age of 74, will be forever remembered for playing the henchman Jaws in not one, but two Bond movies. The role has became so iconic that he’d virtually made a separate career from countless Bond convention and fanfest guest appearances. Despite being blind in one eye, and his distinctive height and physiognomy attributed to the hormonal condition: acromegaly, he carved a 50-year career spanning dozens of television and movie appearances.

Funnily enough, in the mid-70s, when auditions for a certain evil cloaked space villain began, both Kiel and one Dave Prowse were up for the role. Interestingly, Kiel “turned down the role of Darth Vader in order to play Jaws, which he felt offered greater acting potential since the character was not encased in a mask.” When the role of Jaws came along, he (reluctantly) went up for it against (who else?)  Dave Prowse…   

And what about Chewie? In an interview two years ago, Kiel claims he turned down the chance to play that walking carpet due to a fear of being typecast, and complaining that it’s: “always so hot inside those suits…”  

When The Incredible Hulk was developed for television in 1978, Kiel spent the first two days of filming as the green giant. However, the producers felt he “was not bulky enough,” so in stepped Lou Ferrigno, but later in the series Kiel would make an appearance, albeit uncredited.

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“He was a super guy. He was larger than life. He was very friendly; would always make time to talk with his fans” – Luis Fairman.

Richard Kiel – who would have turned 75 this past Saturday – began his acting career by appearing in various TV Westerns such as Laramie and The Rifleman. He starred in the poor little-known SF feature: The Phantom Planet before making a striking appearance on television.

One notable episode of seminal TV show: The Twilight Zone, “To Serve Man” (1962) told how a 9-foot tall alien race known as the Kanamits arrived on Earth to assist mankind. Besides being 2 feet too short(!), Richard Kiel portrayed the still-imposing Kanamit ambassador who visited the United Nations to reiterate the aliens’ peaceful intentions; his lips never moved – as Kanamits communicated telepathically, his “voice” was provided by another actor.

Later that year, Kiel would play the titular caveman of the atrocious Eegah, in which “teenagers stumble across a prehistoric caveman, who goes on a rampage.” 

Other roles in the genre included The Humanoid (1979). Richard Kiel had a substantial role in this ultra-cheap Italian Star Wars knockoff, but this is a shame, for it turned out to be yet another case of shoddy material which did not do its star any justice. As anyone can see from both Bond films, Richard Kiel could apply the subtlest nuances in his looks to alternately convey menace and mayhem and then heart and humour.

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“They shot two endings [for Spy Who Loved Me]: one where the shark got him and one where he got the shark. And, in America, there was great whooping and hollering when his head came up out of the sea” – Sir Roger Moore.  

Sir Roger Moore was said to be “totally distraught” at learning of Richard Kiel’s passing. Despite being involved in some of the best fight scenes of the 007 franchise, off-screen Moore and Kiel were the best of friends. Moore praised his giant friend for helping him in fundraising campaigns for UNICEF. “He was a big, caring man.”

The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) is often considered one of Moore’s best 007 adventures. Originally, Jaws was to be like every other henchman: do his bit and then come a cropper, but there was such a distinctive vibe about Kiel’s performance which makes Jaws one of the most memorable villains of any genre. Plus, preview audience reaction was so positive that the character was saved to bite another day.

Although Moonraker does not rate highly on some Bond lists, it still holds up pretty well. For the 1979 Bond movie, two elements were required: it had to have a sci-fi feel: to capitalise on Star Wars fever, then an unprecedented worldwide phenomenon; and secondly,  Richard Kiel just had to make a comeback as the baddie with the baddest teeth.

Critically, Jaws may be even better in his second outing. Consider the list of classic scenes: who can forget his comical arm-flapping before plummeting onto a circus big-top?; the boat chase and the priceless expression he pulls prior to toppling over a massive waterfall; and what about the cable-car sequence? But what really confirmed Jaws in the stratosphere of franchise fame was the introduction of a love-interest in the diminutive form of a bespectacled, pig-tailed girl known only as “Dolly” (played by Blanche Ravalec, trivia-buffs!), who incidentally, was cuter and more charming than that film’s official Bond-girl(!) This twist could so easily have turned out ludicrous, but was handled just right. Upon realising that he does not measure up to megalomaniac Drax’s “standards of physical perfection”  Jaws revolts, ending up aiding the same man he’d been hired to kill. Against expectations – certainly against typeKiel had succeeded in creating a more tender, endearing individual.  

There was no greater opponent for Jaws… other than his own metallic molars. “They were nauseating” Kiel said. “As soon as the director called Cut, out they came.” The formidable gnashers were tipped to be created by John (Planet of the Apes) Chambers, but that job went instead to dental mechanic: Luis Fairman. Whilst filming, those uncomfortable teeth were kept in a safe each night! So, have they been kept in a glass by the actor’s bedside ever since?

Not exactly. Kiel admitted not knowing what had happened to them, but thought they may have ended up “in a Bond museum somewhere.”  

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Well, here’s to you, Richard.

Cheers!