My thoughts on seeing Princess Mononoke for the first time.

This is going to be short, because it was a test of a mobile dictation system I’m not used to.  Also I gave myself 2 days deadline, and I wanted to leave only thoughts that felt solely my own, and not what many others have already said over the past 20 years.

A great man once said of this movie “More princesses need to be covered in wolf’s blood.” That great man was Doug Walker the Nostalgia Critic. I am trying to come up with what to say about this movie I saw in theaters last night that he did not say in his review. Or anyone else has said.  This is going to be super short.  I think the thing that stands out the most to me is a duality or parallel between this movie and the Legend of Zelda. Both are named after the princess comma but each has a teenage male protagonists instead. Also the princesses have masks, and the young lads wield both blade & bow. Where this differs is that popular cosplay tends to favor link more in Zelda and I pretty much only seen Princess Mononoke cosplay Princess Mononoke.

If you’re wondering why my thoughts in hindsight jumped to Zelda first, it was during the movie itself that I got this parallel.  In typical Miyazaki fashion, or at least what I have generally seen personally from his movies, ambition and greed against something established or natural causes a situation that spirals out of control and creates a very bad dangerous situation for everybody involved. This is in the third Act. I didn’t know a lot about this movie coming in, so I was surprised by the antagonist. Of course I showed up just a little late comma but I did not miss much just the for battle and the initial exile. So there wasn’t a lot of time to set quote unquote as the final threat before I got there. What was really striking to me throughout Hertz in his arm it was killing him comma butt using that arm came off a credible strength. It seems unrealistic what the arrows he launched without as is guiding arm did to targets once they hit, but the targets didn’t bleed either.  Lobbing off limbs and heads with an arrow?
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Rogue One Holiday

Happy 6th Night of Kwanzaa, Night #8 of Hanukkah, and Night #7 of the 12 days of Christmas.  And New Year’s Eve.  And on a sadder note, the 4th day following Carrie Fisher’s passing.  R.I.P.

 

I’m putting together 6 categories for 6 questions regarding my experience and reaction viewing Star Wars Rogue One.  I’m not going to complain about plot holes, because this whole movie exists to fill in and explain Star Wars’ most legendary plot hole.

 

  • What was your response to the IMAX Viewing Experience and surrounding features in Seattle Center. There were only 2 vids before the flick.  But there was also an incredibly annoying and superfluous 3D feature.  The glasses were bulky and inflexible.  I peeked around them repeatedly.  The screen was only slightly blurry, and nothing leapt off the screen when they were on.    Off.
    Although I saw it at the Science Center, so there were a few handy exhibits to check out on my way out.  The cinematic theater was distinct from the Educational IMAX housed in the main exhibit hall, so I didn’t see much.  But there was Winter Festival ice skating and fudge at the center.  2 types of minty chocolate fudge, among other flavors.  And ice cream.  Pity I had to keep my fudge boxed in a pocket for the whole flick.
  • What did I make of the appearances by returning characters from the original trilogy? Darth Vader was a menacing monolith once again.  Governor Tarkin was nearly indistinguishable from Peter Sellers.  But if you looked closely around his eyes, there’s more red and wrinkling than was there before.  And finally, the last shot is Princess Leia.  70’s Princess Leia. This took the de-aging effects in the opening of Antman, lifts and shakes them, and tosses them out the window.  All digital over someone else with an audio clip, of course, but so seamless I had to look that up.  I wonder what Carrie Fisher thought of that?
  • What impression did the new characters made on me? There were just so many, that not enough got proper screen time or character development.  Although for most of them, their few and fleeting moments were made to count.

Forrest Whitaker’s “Saw” was scary and unstable when we meet him.  I’m not counting that first shot where he’s lifting up a rock and peeking into a hole.  Speaking of which, that’s the only shot of him with no hair.  I kept looking for that shot from the trailer where he’s talking to our Stardust Protagonist asking “Who will you become?”  It didn’t show up.  You know, where he’s similarly trimmed down up top.  Of course, whenever we get a good look at him he’s like a Rebel Darth Vader.  An extremist that the Rebel Alliance tries to distance themselves from,

 

And now, Chirrut Imwe.  He is a blind cleric who keeps chanting “I’m one with the Force, the Force is with me.”  Often quite rapidly.  He is visually and personally quite the foil to Baze Malbus, who repeats those suddenly poignant words as Chirrut lays dying.  Yeah, spoiler alert.  Possibly to avoid overlapping with any events from the first trilogy, this has a Kill ‘Em All ending in regards to EVERY character introduced in this movie.  And you KNOW when he’s about to die.  It’s a critical moment for the Rebel ship to make it’s advance, and the only time that he demonstrates that he’s blind.  Although, he is p-layed by Donnie Yen, so he’s still a grand time.

 

Speaking of Baze Malbus.  He has the best design of anyone with a gun I’ve seen in the Star Wars Franchise so far.  There’s a series of battery packs connecting his rifle to his armor.  While that certainly looks cool, it raises the question of the power requirements of the rifles.  No other before has needed external battery packs.  Am I reading this wrong?  Is that not what they were, it’s not identified.  His body armor certainly needs no explanation.  It’s largely for show, as it take fewer shots to kill him in this than takes down the team’s droid.  Both deaths had me crying foul.  They repeatedly were hit by Stormtrooper fire.  Stormtroopers are infamous for not being able to HIT A SINGLE TARGET with any of their shots.  And yet just before the events of Star Wars Episode IV, they cut down almost everyone in this movie with their aim.  This film wasn’t half over before I was calling bullshit.  I’m not talking about his personality because that was simply just a cynical counterpoint to Chirrut.  He only gets any character development when he holds Chirrut’s dying body in his arms.  He is a textbook warning of too many characters in one film.  In hindsight, that reminds me of X-3, the Last Stand.  Which reminded me of Mortal Kombat: Annihilation while I was watching that.

 

And speaking of purely superfluous characters, there’s a defecting Imperial pilot, who’s name is… also something I forgot very quickly.  Seriously, this guy should have been a one-off death after maybe one scene.  He’s given no motivation to betray the Empire other than “Oh shit, they’ve got a Death Star!”  Which I guess is so compelling, I’m wondering why he wasn’t sent out sooner.  And of all the pilots who might freak out about that “fully operational battle station,” why was this one selected?  And after Saw gives him to a telepathic tentacle monster that drives its prey mad, why didn’t he have any evident or lasting madness?  I literally have more questions than answers about this guy.  He took up valuable screen time after his job was done, and was not needed critically for anything else.  But hey, he dropped the name of the movie, even though anyone else could have also done that.

 

Then the droid.  I’ve heard the debate before that droids in the Star Wars Universe are a type of slave, but the very superfluous nature of “Free Will” comes into question with this guy.  Designated “K-2SO”, he’s an Imperial droid reprogrammed to serve the Rebellion.  It comes up repeatedly that his every move, and even his eventual self-sacrifice all stem from being mentally violated.  Just how good are these good guys?  He’s British like C-3PO but competent like R2-D2.  Which means he can fake out Imperials, mention just how bad the situation is, and provide snarky humor.  But he’s still one more to pad out the flick.

 

Our inside man who is by far the most interesting character in this movie, but half of that is being played by the guy from Hannibal.  Galen Ersa is taken by the Empire in the first scene, but with no time to explore his relationship with his daughter.  I was rolling my eyes at the end of his family in the beginning.  They had clearly been prepping for this day.  And what does mom do when she’s clearly got time to make her escape?  She doubles back to get herself killed.  For Drama.  Look, when you prep, you store and rehearse, store and rehearse.  So that if or when disaster strikes, YOU. GET. OUT.  Alive.  Intact.  Together.  She knew the Empire wanted her husband alive, and her daughter was as good as dead alone.  I have so much more to say about THIS frustrating and inconsequential satellite character/plot device than the one this paragraph is about.

 

Captain Cassian is our dashing Rebel lead, whose blundering draws Imperial troops toward himself and his physically handicapped informant.  Who he then executes for his own convenience.  In his first appearance on-screen.

 

And finally we have Jyn Erso, our much touted british protagonist.  Or “Stardust,” as her father calls her.  Played by Felicity Jones of Amazing Spider-Man 2 cameo, she’s the least grimy character, but even in convincingly dirty settings with her hair tied back messily she’s distractingly hot.  Which happens when she gets hit by sandstorms resulting from a Death Star blast.  Shouldn’t she be dustier?  Or memorable?  I’m not kidding, even the lead leaves little to no impression in my memory.  She’s located at the beginning of the movie by Saw, and according to the exposition, she was raised by him.  But when we see her all grown up, she is alone in a prison transport with no explanation as to WHY she parted ways with him.  For a movie that’s all over the place, she might as well have had that backstory filmed.  It’s that kind of editing mess coupled with exposition over-reliance that makes it so hard to invest in anyone I’m seeing, and I see several of them dying across multiple shots from the DEATH STAR!

 

  • My thoughts and reactions to The Death Star in this movie: The Death Star Volume and Mass was really screwy.  It’s considered large enough to be mistaken for a moon in the first movie, but when it gets within firing range at the end and we can see it from planet side.  It takes up most of the screen (not a lean feat in an IMAX theater).  Moons do not look like that from planet side, even in Star Wars.  And we see test shots of the Death Star’s iconic laser.  Never blowing up an entire planet, but actually focusing on specific targets, one of them the site of a former Jedi temple they’d been looting, and the other, the Imperial point for housing the Death Star plans.  You might want to have some backups survive if you want to maintenance on some things, guys…
  • How does this interact with the events of “A New Hope?” All the emotional degrading of Darth Vader in the prequels and the DECADES of parody about the Death Star’s weakness meant this movie HAD to be made.  Suddenly the exhaust port makes sense.  This was deliberate sabotage in an act of revenge against the people who commissioned the Death Star.  The Empire conscripted his help and killed his wife and hunted his daughter, keeping the two of them separated until they met again on opposite sides.

So did the movie generate suspense, even though you knew early on how it would end?  I knew what the outcome of the events for returning characters would be.  But I had deliberately avoided researching any of this movie so I could be surprised throughout.  But unfortunately, several people have very predictable fates.  That is an undeniable fault of the writing.  It also made it impossible to invest in this movie’s primary antagonist, who I won’t be going into.  He’s just that stock.

  • I’ve gone through all the characters this movie, but even with a Force preacher, the only Force user is Darth Vader in a couple cameos. How did you react to the lack of a Jedi character in this movie?  This finally gave a real face to the Rebellion, warts and all.  Politics, desperation and ruthlessness, the very ebb and flow of their collective nerve… Also, it introduced Force-Worship as a religion, practiced by “Chirrut Imwe.”  To the movies anyway.  I’m not sure about the Expanded Universe, Post-Disney.