Saturday, December 31, 2016

Out With the Old, In With the…Old?

   As the new year approaches we traditionally think of discarding the “old” and implementing the “new.” We make resolutions (some realistic, some not) and commit ourselves to making the reflection in the mirror a better person. I can’t say what percentage of people actually follow through (I haven’t done a study and am not even motivated enough to look one up) but it occurs to me that instead of simply swapping old for new, that maybe we should examine ourselves a bit more closely and realize that maybe the old…is actually best for us.

   I won’t list what is good or bad since those terms are subjective to what you are doing and trying to achieve. I will say that we don’t always realize what works for us and tend to take that measure based on what is working for someone else. It makes no sense…but I’ve seen it happen. 

   Throwing out the baby with the bathwater leaves you with no baby…when all you really wanted was to get rid of the bathwater. Trying to fix something that isn’t broken can leave you with something that does not work. What I’m saying is sometimes when we go to make sweeping changes, we end up changing some things that we really didn’t want to. Other times we try to improve upon something that is great the way it is…and the process of trying to make the improvisation actually destroys what has already been working (and the replacement may not work as well, or even work for us at all).

   I’ve watched people buy new cars (a fresh start) without accounting for the financial impact it can have on a budget. Eventually the reality presents itself and the new car is gone…replaced by a worse car than the old car, or no car at all. The kicker was the old car was great for what it was being used for (short distance travel to and from work). This is just a simple example of the above analogies, but clearly illustrates that new for the sake of new is not always the best decision or change to make.

   Things get a little more complex when dealing with personal relationships. Sometimes we need to change the type of people we have around us…and sometimes we need to change our exposure to just one person to make all the difference. Maybe our friends are really just people we associate with (I’ve spoken about friendships before) and we simply need to change how we use the term. Self examination can be complicated, but if improvement is your goal for the new year, it’s absolutely necessary.

   Romantic relationships are even more complex than the interactions mentioned above. I’ve seen people change romantic relationships like others change clothes (I can’t make this stuff up) and I gotta wonder if they will ever realize the baby was in the bathwater. A new relationship might not be the best answer when a few changes to the old one might be better. I’ve spoken about relationships before here so won’t go into that rabbit hole, but if I had to convey one aspect we could all benefit from paying more attention to, it would be communication/consideration (see how I snuck two in there when I said it would be only one).

   Whatever it is you want the new year to bring with it, realize that some of those things might be what you have to bring with you…not the new year. So this year when you go to make your resolutions, take a moment to examine what has been working for you and commit to maintaining that occurrence. 

Happy New Year! 

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”

   I am an ardent fan of the cinematic arts. Although I have certain genre preferences, I don’t let that stifle my curiosity and close myself to different flavors of entertainment. That said...I am a huge fan of science fiction, super hero and action movies! Typically an review like this would be on my other blog The Boxed Office, but please enjoy this slight change.

The Cast: 

   Jones plays Jyn Erso, daughter of the man responsible for building the Death Star seen in the original film in 1977, Star Wars: A New Hope. This is the first time a Star Wars film has had a female lead and Jones does a great job carrying this film (and us) further into the Star wars mythos.

   Luna plays Cassian Andor, a rebel loyal to the cause and willing to do whatever is necessary to defeat the Empire. Not having really seen him in anything else, I had no real expectations from him…but early in the film I realized Luna was a very capable actor as he sold me on his role just on his execution (pun intended) alone.

   Mendelsohn has always been a good actor (imo) and didn’t disappoint here. He seems to be very comfortable playing a villain, as well he should, since he plays them so well. In this film he plays Orson Krennic, a commander for the Galactic Empire tasked as the director in charge of building the Death Star. Mendelsohn seems to gravitate to characters with questionable authority issues as Krennic was unsure if he was in charge, dealing with Vader, in this film, and Dagget (The Dark Knight Rises) had a similar complication with Bane (lol).

The Plot: 
   The Rebellion is in full swing and the Galactic Empire has developed a new super weapon that will end it. To that end, they require Galen Urso (Mads Mikkelsen) leaving his daughter Jyn on her own, to be cared for by the infamous Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker).

   When the Rebels find out that the Empire is nearly done with this new super weapon, they acquire Jyn in hopes that she can lead them to the whereabouts of her father. Together with Andor and a reprogrammed Imperial security droid K-2SO (Alan Tudyk), they travel to a moon called Jedha seeking out Gerrera since he has pertinent information and the Imperial pilot (Riz Ahmed) that delivered it.

   While on Jedha, they are helped and joined by Chirrut Îmwe (Donnie Yen), a blind former Guardian of the Whills and his partner-in-arms Baze Malbus (Wen Jiang), a man with a rapid fire file that can’t seem to miss. The five rebels succeed in escaping Jedha with the defected Imperial pilot as the Death Star destroys the capital city (and Gerrera). 

   As a traitor within the Empire is revealed the Rebels race to find galen Orso. Not reaching him in time, our unlikely heroes take it upon themselves to steal the plans to the Death Star and exploit the weakness Orso built into it. What follows is a mesmerizing and exciting adventure full of explosions and blaster fire that will leave you stunned and clamoring for more.

The Verdict: 
   This is one of the best Star Wars films….ever.

   Now before we have a huge clamoring of dissented voices, think about it for a second. There have been seven films before this one. This one is certainly better than the three prequels. It’s better than the last sequel (“Force Awakens”). It’s better than “Return of the Jedi.” It’s on par with “Empire Strikes Back” and “A New Hope”…so, that makes it one of the best. Don’t believe me, ask George Lucas:

“George Lucas loved the film so much that Director Gareth Edwards posted on his Twitter "it was the most important review to me he's kind of like God, I will take that conversation to my grave, his opinion means the world to me”.”

   The third act alone is better than the entirety of some of the other Star Wars films.

   Before I get into all the good, let me discuss the bad. The CGI of certain characters could have been better. The first two acts were a bit slow. On that second one though, it could be that the third act is so action packed and filled to the brim with awesomeness that it just seemed like the other acts were slow when in actuality, they may not have been.

  Chirrut Îmwe (Donnie Yen is a badass) and K-2SO were the stand out characters that will have a lasting impression on you…until the end of the film, when the only thing that will matter is that dang door that did not open all the way.

   This film is a Star Wars story. It tells us exactly how the Rebels got the plans to do what they did in “Star Wars: A New Hope” and while some may feel it didn’t need to be told, I am very glad it was as it burned four and a half (4.5) cinnamon sticks into the side of my cup of tea with laser-like precision.

Rating 4.5 / 5