Monday, January 16, 2017

rogue one: a star wars story [2016]

it's been a long, hard three-day weekend.  anna and i have spent the past couple of weekends, when not raining literal cats&dogs, cleaning up the front and back gardens, and rearranging items in our sheds.  strong toil and physical labor woke up muscles that screamed, feel me now, mutherfucker!  

but instead of resting on the third day, MLK's holiday, i took nick and his friend to see roque one: a star wars story at the newest theater in sac.  indeed, the theater, i don't remember the name of it at the moment, and am feeling too lazy to look it up, was built on the site of the century cinedomes where i saw the original star wars flick as an eager lad of 10 in 1977.  but we live in a different world now.  the old cinedomes, architectural marvels, really, sort of like googie architecture because the theater were really in the shape of domes.  that was all.  when the domes were built in the early '70s movies needed be the only draw to get people out of their homes and into the theaters.  today, we stream nearly everything we want, and what we can't stream we order via online with delivery promised sometimes in a mere couple hours.

so theater owners and film studios need to do something different.  the movies are no longer the only draw.  the theaters have to turn in to places where you want to hang out.  and but so these new theaters built on the site of the old cinedomes feature seats that ease back and let you relax like laz-e-boy recliners.  i nearly fell asleep in one of them chairs.  the snack bar has transmogrified into a lounge with beer and wine on tap and snackables beyond the mere nachos and pizza.  there are booths in the dining area where you can eat, shoot the breeze, tap in to the wifi, or people watch.  the menu screens are digital; so are the signs for the theaters which change from movie titles to product adverts.  the whole of the place is light, airy and roomy.  except for the theaters.  those are pretty small affairs.

what makes the experience so relaxing are those recliners.  one can doze in them, and forget there is a movie on the large screen in digital projects.  lo!  it is so a digital world that we bought our tickets, and reserved our seats, online and nick used his phone to get us checked in.  i don't have a phone. . .yet.  i guess i haven't fully entered the 21st century.

but then this boy born in the latter half of the 20th century still digs the movie going experience.  i do miss the cheap seats variety of old-time movie going when you saw trailers and snack bar ads viewable nowhere else.  this age is so gimmicky that the flick was presented in 3D, a forum that did not enhance the movie one jot.  i want to see this pic again, not because it is a great movie, but because there were lots of little details that i think i missed due to wearing those goofy 3D glasses.

and then there was the movie directed by gareth edwards, who helmed one of my favorite flicks a few years ago, monsters [2010], a real slow burn of a horror movie, and then guided the messy and confused reboot, godzilla [2014].  i didn't know what to expect from edwards this go around but the filmmaker created an admirable movie in the star wars mythology.

i really do need to see this movie again to give it a fair airing.  i thought felicity jones and diego luna were very good as our heroes, and it is a delight to see another strong female character take charge, kick butt, and think her way thru difficult odds to achieve her goals.  the special fx are state of the art.  the galaxy far, far away is grittier, bloodier, dirtier, and messier than ever.  grime and dust are very much in evidence.  these details made me wonder what a truly dark star wars movie would be like.  i'm sure there are novels, and there are oodles of books published about this galaxy and its characters, that are pretty bleak and dark that could make a viewer blanche.

i said we live in a digital world, and we do.  after the movie i asked nick and his friend their thoughts.  they liked it.  i said did you see anything wrong with the man playing grand moff tarkin?  who? they asked.  the old guy in charge of the death star.  no, they said.  i said he's a digital recreation of the man who played tarkin in the first star wars movie, peter cushing, who died some years ago.  then there was carrie fisher's digital visage as princess leia circa the first star wars pic.  the boys didn't seem to notice the uncanny valley of digital recreation.

that seems to be the rub of our age and the subject of another essay, digital culture, AI and automation.  three things i think are helping to transform our civilization in ways we have yet to fathom.  at any rate, edwards and co. have made a worthy edition to the star wars legacy that i find admirable.  there were enough little details to keep the fan boys and girls on the edge of their seats, e.g. cameos by the criminal luke skywalker crosses paths with at the cantina who tells luke he has the death sentence on 12 systems in the original flick, and by rt-d2 and c-3po.  lovely little moments that tie the story in with the original movie.

the recliners were so comfy i nearly fell asleep but that wasn't the fault of the movie.  rather it was because i'd been kicking my ass with hard physical labor this weekend.  my muscles ache!  after the movie i took my sorry ass home to soak in a hot shower, after dropping off nick's friend at his house.  all in all it was a delightful long weekend.       


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