Posts Tagged With: star wars

Rogue One: Kind of a Star Wars story

It’s not exactly cheery, is it?

I mean, it was never going to be. If you want to visit the first paragraph of that iconic title crawl and turn it into a movie, you immediately run into a problem. If the Rebels striking from a hidden base have managed to steal the plans for the Death Star, how come we never hear from them again? Why does the the entire revolution lie in the hands of a drippy farm boy, a cynical mercenary and a sexually frustrated royal? Tangentially, why is everyone so goddamned happy at the end of Episode IV when they’ve lost about thirty-six pilots on that trench run?

The solution is simple. You give the job to someone who takes it upon themselves to disappear from the limelight for a good while (which is what they did in Dark Forces) or you kill off everyone involved, which is exactly what happens in Rogue One. Specifically, you give it to a young woman with a ‘troubled’ past and family connections, stick her with a bunch of misfits and ‘a droid with more personality than any of the human characters’ (quoth Honest Trailers) and then you send them marching off to their deaths. Give them a few headline-generating filming locations to take in on the way. Night raid on craggy Imperial outpost? Check. Forests? Check. Desert world? Flights to Jordan already booked. And somewhere, in a bar on Mos Eisley, a retconned-out-of-existence Kyle Katarn is weeping into his Jawa Juice.

It looks spectacular, as one would expect. But perhaps the best thing we could say about it is that for the most part it doesn’t really feel like a Star Wars story – and that’s a compliment. The tropes are all present and correct, of course. K-2SO even says “I have a bad feeling about this” when he’s entering an elevator, although it’s almost disappointing when said elevator doesn’t subsequently cut him in half. But that’s where it stops. If the biggest crime committed by The Force Awakens was its scene-by-scene homage to Episode IV – a film that mirrors its predecessor so closely can never be a total success – Rogue One manages to take the Star Wars universe into different territory without ever quite abandoning the galaxy far, far away. This is a darker, grittier piece with a greater degree of moral ambiguity. Characters face death and find there is no last-minute reprieve or conveniently placed Wookiee. Instead there is a lot of self-sacrifice and that scene on a beach that basically rips off Deep Impact. I hear whispers of an alternative ending, perhaps never shot, in which Jyn and Cassian survived: perhaps a better homage would have been a dramatic freeze frame, fading to sepia, the almost-lovers locked in time, somehow cheating death.

It might have been a decent way to conclude the movie, because then we wouldn’t have had to put up with this.

I don’t necessarily have a problem with the uncanny valley, but I can’t help feeling that this particular traversal was a colossal waste of time. Essentially it still looks fake. It’s like particularly good botox – wrinkle-free, but you can still tell. It’s not as bad as Jeff Daniels in Tron Legacy, but it’s close. And the moment it happens is worse than looking at a photo. It’s like that bit in Spaceballs where the effeminate commander yells “You’ve captured their stunt doubles!”. Would it have killed Ingvild Deila to keep her back to the camera? “And when I turned round…”

More successful – somewhat – is the resurrected Grand Moff Tarkin, played this time by Guy Henry, who (Rosie Marcel aside) is just about the best thing in Holby City, whether he’s being fatherly with Arthur Digby or getting punched in the face by Ric Griffin. He still looks fake, but it’s a believable kind of fake, somehow. What does this say about my preoccupation with women’s looks? Put another way, why can I accept a CG Peter Cushing, but not a Carrie Fisher? And at the opposite end of the spectrum I’m still annoyed that in the process of revisiting the First Doctor for the Christmas special they’ve cast an actor who is absolutely nothing like him, so perhaps it’s impossible to make me happy.

The film ends – you will know this, and if you haven’t I’m about to ruin it – literally minutes before A New Hope begins, with Princess Leia making a run for it with the stolen plans, the Empire in hot pursuit. Or perhaps it doesn’t. Perhaps there’s room for a whole slew of adventures in between, in which Leia picks up the two droids, meets Han Solo, bears his child and then has her memory wiped. If this were Doctor Who, that’d be what happens. There is a school of thought that suggests, for example, that the Ninth Doctor went off and travelled on his own for years in the five seconds that it takes Mickey and Rose to cross the car park before the TARDIS rematerialises and the Doctor asks “By the way, did I mention that it also travels in time?”. It is a silly theory, but you could shoehorn it if you really wanted.

All headcanon aside, the sense of familiarity that hits you in those final minutes is a blatant attempt at crowd-pleasing, just the same as the seeds for Episode IV were sown in the montage that closed Revenge Of The Sith. That one had twin suns on Tattoine, brooding stares from Darth Vader, and a partially constructed Death Star. Rogue One tries so hard to outdo this it comes across as posturing. It’s not necessarily bad posturing, particularly as it’s so much fun to watch Vader striding through the Alliance command ship, mercilessly throwing Rebel troops against the ceiling like someone playing Boom Blox on the Wii. But it’s really not very cheery, K-2SO’s quibbling aside. It’s jolly good, all told, but there must be a way to make it a little more fun.

And then it hit me. You add the Red Dwarf theme.

There, that’s much better.

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Have I Got Whos For You (part 2001 and a bit)

I’ve got more posts with ACTUAL CONTENT coming soon, folks, promise. But I’ve been away for two weeks and thick with Metro stuff, so they’re going to have to wait.

In the meantime, here’s a bumper collection of movie-themed memes. First, E.T.

Then this one, which (as I’ve had to tediously explain to a bunch of fans on the internet this week) is NOT A BLOODY RED DWARF REFERENCE.

Meanwhile, something looms disturbing over that collection of cardboard cutouts.

Back on Earth, we’re still in ‘Day of the Doctor’ territory, as Windy Miller recreates the famous bike-riding opening.

And finally, the Doctor does H.P. Lovecraft. Or rather, doesn’t.

Enjoy your bank holiday.

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Have I Got Whos For You (part 354)

You know…you’d get these a lot faster if you visit and follow my Facebook page.

First: rejected monsters from series 10.

Meanwhile, in an art gallery in an undisclosed location, fandom implodes.

And in unrelated news, the Thirteenth Doctor’s companion is finally unveiled.

(You would not believe the fallout I had from that one.)

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Inspirational Star Wars Quotes

“I have been giggling at this,” said Sara, “for ten minutes.

impossible-possible

I didn’t even get the reference, which supposedly comes from It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, a show I’d never even heard of, let alone seen. But it works, even though it loses points for missing out a full stop in that second frame.

Star Wars spirituality is a very real concept. We’re living in a country where nearly four hundred thousand people put ‘Jedi’ as their religion on the 2001 census, for crying out loud. There’s nothing wrong with that, in and of itself, provided it’s a token protest against atheism and not something you’re actually supposed to take seriously. If that sounds rather too obvious a point for me to need to actually state openly, it’s worth bearing in mind that I’ve spent a week or so reading through status updates on a Facebook group where people genuinely seem to think that the Doctor is really out there flying around in his TARDIS, simply because you’re unable to categorically prove that he isn’t.

So I’m fine with life lessons from Who, and the Everything I Ever Needed To Know I Learned From Star Trek business model, but you can get too obsessed. And when people delve into these shows as if it’s the only thing that gives their lives meaning, I am torn between the desire to feel sorry for them or openly mock them. Sometimes it’s a simple combination of both.

“Also,” said Sara’s friend Kimberley, “I think a whole series of Star Wars / spiritual memes is in order.”

And she was right. So we spent a pleasant evening doing them, as and when they came to us.

And somewhat predictably, I made a whole set. And here they are.

If Plan A didn’t work, the alphabet has 25 more letters

If God is all you have you have all you need

Be somebody nobody thought you could be

We are not human beings having a spiritual experience we are spiritual beings having a human experience

Courage is being yourself every day in a world that tells you to be someone else

Don’t let the behaviour of others destroy your inner peace

Until you spread your wings you will have no idea how far you can fly

The truth of human freedom lies in the love that breaks down barriers

Happiness is found when you stop comparing yourself to other people

Embrace the glorious mess that you are

May the Force be with you. “And also with you.”

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High on a hill lived a lonely Jedi

If you sang that, then my work is more or less done and I could probably go now. But I dropped in to expand upon this meme that’s been doing the rounds.

Luke_Meme

I won’t linger on the Star Wars / Doctor Who thing. We did all that last year, in more ways than one. It’s just that Thomas has been on at me to do something with that final sequence ever since we saw the film back in December; only recently did I actually find decent quality images to do the Photoshopping.

ForceAwake_Hurt

Because we were all thinking it, right?

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MY INHIBITION IS IMPAIRED

Today in Brian of Morbius: Autons get broody.

There is trouble afoot on the set of ‘Logopolis’.

And chaos ensues during the Dalek Star Wars marathon.

Happy Monday!

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God is in the detail (9-3)

If you’ve been reading around, you won’t have failed to notice the visual nods to Star Trek that showed up in ‘Under The Lake’. There were two fairly obvious ones, and a couple that slipped under the radar. For a start, there was the use of a bay door that featured the number 1701B – which, coincidentally, was the serial number of the fourth Enterprise. This ties up neatly with the mysterious spacecraft that’s the cause of all the trouble – a craft that resembles a Federation shuttle – as well as the whole design of the Drum, as established in that opening shot:

9_3 Detail (1)

Most of all, however, there was this.

9_3 Detail (3)

Ha ha, I hear you saying. Yes, very good. A nice couple of Easter Eggs dropped in to please the Trekkies. To which I say ‘Certainly not’, but in a particularly loud and vivacious voice, in the manner of the Eleventh Doctor bellowing “I WAS NOT EXPECTING THIS!”. The truth – and here at God Is In The Detail Central that’s our only currency – is that the episode is absolutely full of BLATANT AND VERY IMPORTANT STAR TREK REFERENCES THAT CANNOT BE IGNORED. And don’t worry, you don’t have to go on the hunt for them – I’ve done it for you. So what are we waiting for? Warp factor five, and don’t take your eyes off that glowing circular thing on the screen. Oh, and for heaven’s sake, try and keep your shirt on.

Let’s look at the dots.

9_3 Detail (5)

There are eighteen concentric dots in that outer circle, and a further nine in the next two, along with a single circle in the middle. The number nine has great significance in the Star Trek universe: there are nine principal characters in The Next Generation (Picard, Riker, Data, Troi, Worf, Dr Crusher, Geordi, Gaia and Will Wheaton). Voyager’s de-Borgified scientist Annika Hansen went by the name Seven of Nine (and as a side note, Doctor number Seven starred in a Big Finish Star Trek pastiche known as ‘Bang-Bang-a-Boom!’). And the desert filming for ‘Arena’, episode eighteen of the original series, took place on 9 November. Coincidence? I DON’T THINK SO.

18-9-9 is a type of particularly nitrogen-heavy fertiliser. In the episode ‘The Passenger’, a fire broke out on a Kobliad transport ship – a fire that was extinguished by Major Kira Nerys, with the help of a nitrogen fire extinguisher. This happened in Episode nine of series one of Deep Space Nine. Two nines are eighteen. Draw your own conclusions. (No, really, do draw them. We could do with some more pictures to brighten the place up.)

Finally, the ninth film in the Star Trek series (Insurrection) was released in 1998: a number which may be rearranged to form 18-9-9. ALL OF THIS IS CLEARLY IMPORTANT.

Now look at this.

9_3 Detail (7)

Examine the circular structure that forms the right hand side of the picture. The three large rooms allude to the landing party that energises in every episode in order to explore whatever planet they happen to have discovered (centre). McCoy and Spock (top and bottom) form two ideologically opposite ends, while Kirk (centre right) is the middle ground, charged with listening to both. The two circles containing horizontal lines, just to the left, are CLEAR AND UNAMBIGUOUS references to the redshirts who would join them on each occasion, only to get zapped almost immediately.

Now look at the passages to the left. Each room represents a different Trek series, all branching out from the single, spherical hub. This one represents the original series, while the cube-shaped ones signify The Next Generation and Voyager, insofar as both feature encounters with Borg Cubes. Meanwhile, the hexagonal one in the middle represents Deep Space Nine, given that this was the first series to include a Ferengi in Starfleet, with Ferengi display devices (PADDs) being hexagonal in shape. Oh, and the rectangular one at the bottom? That’s Enterprise, but we won’t dwell on it.

Lastly, note that there are three passages. The instrument of choice for an exploratory landing party was a TRICORDER. I think we all know where this is going, don’t you?

It’s not just Star Trek that gets a look in, of course. There are plenty of nods to George Lucas as well. Witness the symbols inside the shuttle:

9_3 Detail (4)

Which unambiguously depict iconic moments from the Star Wars franchise:

9_3 Detail (Signs)

You will note that none of these are from the prequels, for the simple reason that the prequels are crap.

It’s back to Star Trek for our final image.

9_3 Detail (2)

The clue here is in the upended chairs that scatter the floor. To fully understand this, we must turn our attention to the films, specifically parts two and ten (The Wrath of Khan / Nemesis). Both featured the deaths of prominent characters: Data (on the left) and Spock (on the right). The uniform colours give this away:

Data-Spock

Meanwhile, the orange chair signifies Kirk’s death in Generations, tied up as it is with the upturned yellow chair that is almost perpendicular, signifying that Kirk died not once, but twice.

Now, you’ll notice we’ve been rather light on Doctor Who-related content this time around, but finally, observe what happens when we join up these chairs.

9_3 Detail (2b)

The resulting shape is, of course, a pyramid. And this episode was broadcast the week they found water on Mars, even though they had filmed it sometime before. They knew. THE BASTARDS KNEW.

Set phasers for ‘overkill’…

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It’s a Bing Thing

07056_2

If you watch as much CBeebies as I do, the adventures of Bing Bunny can’t have escaped you. Based on Ted Dewan’s children’s books, the series takes a peek into the lives of Bing, a young rabbit who spends his days getting into the sorts of scrapes that toddlers and small children find their way into with ease. Every episode sees the titular bunny face and eventually overcome some sort of problem – whether it’s learning to share, dealing with fear of the dark or apologising after dropping your friend’s shoe down the toilet (yes, really). The episode ends in true 1980s cartoon style (see Masters of the Universe / Inspector Gadget / etc.) with one of those monologues to camera, in which Bing reveals that “In today’s story we learned…” – well, more or less – before Flop joins him on the blue green yellow screen, summing up the tale with the words “Splashing / Sleeping / Myxomatosis. It’s a Bing thing.”

Bing spends a fair amount of time hanging around with friends Pando (a panda with an amusing habit of removing his trousers at every conceivable opportunity), Coco (a larger and somewhat irritating rabbit, reminding me faintly of the Tweenies’ Bella) and Sula, a young elephant. His principal guide on this journey, however, is Flop (voiced by Mark Rylance – more on him next time), a sock puppet half his size and only vaguely rabbit-like in his appearance. This has led to all sorts of sorts of speculation as to the nature of the relationship between the two, including an amusingly tongue-in-cheek theory about biodomes and knitted guardians of a master race that you really ought to read. However, here’s the bottom line for those of you who happen to have stumbled in here because you’ve Googled it: Flop is supposed to be Bing’s carer, not his old man. He’s a sock puppet because he’s a sock puppet, although he resembles Bing in the same way that Amma (Sula’s carer) looks like an elephant. And he’s half the size because children tend to place themselves at the centre of the universe (this is the creator’s insight, not mine), so it’s all too feasible that what we’re seeing is Bing’s interpretation of what Flop looks like, not his actual appearance. (You know, like the scenes in Quantum Leap where a doctor or someone would look down at Sam Beckett and see a man with no legs or a woman about to give birth, rather than Scott Bakula.) I certainly hope Flop’s not that actual size, given that the houses in which the characters live are replete with full-size furniture, suggesting that Bing is destined to grow to be twice the size he is now.

Bing-flop

There are two chief complaints levelled at Bing by well-meaning (but ultimately misguided) parents. One is Pando’s tendency to disrobe, which can be explained away by the simple fact that small children love taking their clothes off. Seriously, you’ve got two boys under five and you didn’t see this coming? You didn’t? Well, come to my house at half past four on a warm weekday afternoon. Nakedness is abundant. The other is Bing’s use of incorrect words – terms like ‘gooderer’ are abundant – but moaning about this is frankly churlish. For one thing the animals speak exactly how real-world children speak – anything else would undermine the sense of naturalism and it’d just sound like those irritating stage school brats on The Green Balloon Club who always parse their sentences correctly –  and even if the kids get things mixed up they learn from the adults, all of whom speak impeccably. For another, teaching correct language is not the responsibility of the BBC, it’s the job of the parents, and at the risk of making huge generalisations I’d suggest that if your child is learning solely from the TV, rather than you, you’re not doing your job properly. For yet another, made-up words and richness of language and – for pity’s sake – HAVING TV CHARACTERS REFLECT REALITY – is abundant throughout this medium. Do these people stare daggers at Elmo because he repeatedly refers to himself (and others) in the third person? Did they whine about the made-up words on Dinopaws or the baby talk on In The Night Garden? (They probably did, so I think it’s a lost cause.)

Anyway, this is all leading to something I’m working on, and which I’ll tell you about next time. Suffice it to say that I’m very keen on exploring the darker side of this wonderful series, particularly Flop. But while you’re waiting, if you ever wondered what Bing and Flop would look like if they’d been dropped into the worlds of Lord of the Rings or Star Trek, you need wonder no more. I confess that I am rather proud of that third image, but I find it unfortunate that I have yet to come up with an inspired idea for a Doctor Who themed one. Still, there’s time. Which is probably also a Bing thing.

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How to ruin a romantic moment in four words

The #RuinARomanticMomentin4Words hashtag was trending on Twitter the other night, so here’s my contribution.

#1. The Doctor and River

 

#2. The Star Wars edition

 

#3. Amy and Rory

 

I think that covers all the bases, but I do take requests, even if they’re just “please stop doing this crap”.

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The inevitable Doctor Who / Star Wars trailer thing

TheHeadlessMonks

Four a.m. All right? That’s when I went to bed. That’s pretty much a record from someone who’s frequently tried to pull an all-nighter only to decide at the eleventh hour that sleep – any amount, however small – really would be better. If you have children you will understand this. If you have my children, you’ll tell me I’m being an idiot for staying up so late on a school night.

Anyway, that Star Wars trailer. You’ve all seen it, haven’t you? The one that was announced with a flurry of trumpets and had Twitter in meltdown. The one with the ominous voiceover from Luke, who basically repeats his I-am-your-sister monologue from Return of the Jedi, to a woman whom I’m informed is probably his niece. The one that’s already been analysed to death as people try and work out whether the black stormtrooper is a good guy or a bad guy (surely ‘both’ is the only sensible answer?), why Lando still hasn’t fixed the Millennium Falcon’s deflector dish, and whether you could park a plane in one of the crags on Harrison Ford’s face. It’s standard “this is what should be in a Star Wars trailer” fare, telling us precisely nothing about exactly why the Force is awakening or in whom (although I can make an educated guess) followed by the welcome sight of Han Solo – whose absence is what killed the prequel trilogy and whose presence here got the kid in me all excited. (Actually, the kid in me is about ninety per cent of my active personality, so it was quite spectacular.)

You haven’t seen it? Well, go and watch it now. Otherwise you’re going to be horribly confused by what follows, which is my version. And here it is.

The last time they did a Star Wars teaser, I produced a selection of memes. This time I went one better, opting for a full-on reconstruction. The result is rather like the Magnum P.I. trailer I produced a while back. Anyone can do a fancy trailer with appropriate footage, designed for maximum emotional / comedic impact. Producing something that actually looks a little bit like the thing you’re trying to copy is considerably trickier, and requires time, patience and – in this case – an almost encyclopedic knowledge of New Who. I have none of the above, but where’s the fun in going into something totally prepared?

I started and finished this in a single evening, mostly as a shameless land grab. The abundance of black screen helped – there was less to do. Certain stories jump out at you as being obvious targets, if like me you’ve spent time watching them with a cynical, “They nicked that from Star Wars” eye. (This isn’t really fair, of course.  The original Star Wars trilogy is, in its own way, thoroughly derivative, and that’s the reason it works so well – it fuses western with Arthurian legend and dumps it in space.) But there are obvious contenders. I never thought I’d actually be able to do anything with ‘Planet of the Dead’, but it really was a gift for something like this. And there’s not a single shot of Lee Evans.

Episodes used, in order of first appearance:

‘Planet of the Dead’
‘The Time of the Doctor’
‘School Reunion’
‘Forest of the Dead’
‘Aliens of London’
‘The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe’
‘A Good Man Goes To War’
‘Asylum of the Daleks’
‘Doomsday’
‘The Stolen Earth’
‘Dinosaurs on a Spaceship’
‘Voyage of the Damned’
‘Victory of the Daleks’
‘The Crimson Horror’
‘The Eleventh Hour’
‘Fires of Pompeii’
‘Utopia’

It works reasonably well. I wish, wish, wish I’d remembered to fix the text justification in that opening title. And what’s even more irritating is that for all the shot reversals I included, I didn’t reverse the opening walk to the Tritovore spacecraft across the San Helios desert, and this is silly. At least it’s a contrast. Aside from that, you will note the obvious inclusion of the lightsaber-toting monks in ‘A Good Man Goes To War’, and the the less obvious inclusion of the pteranodons from ‘Dinosaurs on a Spaceship’. That closing image was the hardest one to pick, and even now I’m not entirely sure it’s the right one, but by this point it was half past two and my brain was bleeding.

All the while I was producing this it made sense to do a side-by-side comparison to accompany it, just to see how close I was, or wasn’t. But I bought that split-screen enabled editing software, and I’m damn well going to use it. So here it is. May the Force, and all that.

 

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