Some Rogue One thoughts

December 16, 2016 mgroves 0 Comments
Tags: movies

Spoiler alert.

I know that this is usually a tech/dev focused blog. But let's be honest, tech/dev types love Star Wars. So I'm comfortable posting this here.

I wanted to get some thoughts down about my first impressions. As I write this, I've seen Rogue One once, and I'll probably be watching it twice more this weekend.

Tarkin's Face

The rendering technology is not quite there yet, but it was pretty good. His face looked a little shinier than the other actors, and the mouth movements sometimes had a cartoonish quality to them. It was in the uncanny valley, a bit. But I think that's okay, because Tarkin is ruthless, and looking at him should make you feel a bit uncomfortable. The other digital faces (Leia, Red Leader, Gold Leader, etc) were relatively convincing, although they were in short bursts.

The last time these sorts of effects were used in such a high profile way that I can remember is Forest Gump, where Kennedy and others were made to have brief conversations with Forest.

Moff Tarkin was most noticeable because he had a relatively large amount of screen time. I don't think the technology to do this convincingly for a main character is that far away. Which raises the question: how far will this go? Will voice actors and CGI faces be used on a regular basis to bring back dead actors? Will we see Heath Ledger's Joker, Christopher Reeve's Superman, and David Bowie's Goblin King brought back to life? What are the ethics and implications? And how will it affect Crispin Glover?

James Earl Jones

For the first time as playing Darth Vader, I could hear the aging in his voice. It was still good, but if Darth Vader is to continue being in Star Wars material, a good impressionist needs to be found. The "Chad Vader" actor is probably the closest we have right now, but James Earl Jones's voice is so distinctive and central to Darth Vader, that I think it's less likely that Darth Vader appears in future Star Wars "gaiden" movies.

3D Star Destroyer

In both The Force Awakens and Rogue One, there have been some really great shots of Star Destroyers that translate well to 3D. Speaking of 3D, am I ever going to get 3D versions of IV,V,VI? I want trench run, asteroid field, and battle of Endor in 3D!

Krennic & Erso

I did not find the Krennic and Erso conflict to be terribly compelling. I did not feel as invested into these characters as I do Kylo & Rey. This might be because I had a pretty strong suspicion that they were both going to die in the movie. 

Brain octopus

The truth-extracting octopus thing that Saw used on the defector. What was the point of that? It's supposed to make the subject lose their mind? The pilot seemed to only be affected by it for a short period. Speaking of the pilot...

Bland characters

I really enjoyed Chirrut and Baze. K-2SO absolutely killed it. But pretty much everyone else was stoic, bland, serious, stone faced. The characters in the "main" series are generally more colorful: whiny, sarcastic, hammy, angry, silly, etc. I think a little more spice would have been nice. It was alluded to that Cassian Andor had a dark history, but that didn't really stand out because it seemed like everyone had a dark history.

No crawl

There was no opening crawl, which I'm fine with as a deliberate choice for the "out of band" movies. But, there were a lot of establishing shots with text. Seemed like maybe too many. Maybe because there were too many locations?


I only spotted The Ghost once: on Yavin. Suppposedly there are other shots of it in the battle, and there's a shot of Chopper somewhere that I missed. I'll look for it when I watch later.

Some other random notes

Jyn's mother being slaughtered was intense. The whole opening scene felt like an homage/foreshadowing to Owen and Beru being killed. The little girl in the middle of the battlefield was really intense, and had me thinking that this movie was going to get really dark. Those were probably the two darkest moments. Other than the absolute killer sequence of Darth Vader swatting Alderaan guards like flies.

Did I mention that K-2SO killed it? Best new character.

Kyber Crystals. I was apprenhensive that this plot device would end up being like midichlorians. But no, it was used well. It showed that the Death Star is built on the ruins of the Jedi, and that the Death Star's weapon is basically a giant lightsaber.

I got a little bit of an insurgent/terrorist vibe from Saw and his group. The scene with men in head scarfs ambushing a military vehicle made me a little uncomfortable (which is fine; good movies should make me feel all kinds of emotions). The Alliance leadership alluded to his methods being "problematic". This set a tone of moral greyness that I think straddles the black & white plots of IV,V,VI,VII and the ambiguous, politically complex (overly complex and boring sometimes) plots of I,II,III. It makes sense that the time between III and IV would be filled with chaos and shades of gray, as the Emperor moves from ostensible pariah to unabashed monster. If you're watching Rebels, you're seeing flashes of the same sort of progression.

Podcast 027 - Season 1 Finale

December 12, 2016 mgroves 0 Comments
Tags: podcast

That's a wrap on 26 episodes of the Cross Cutting Concerns podcast. I'm going to be taking a break from recording over the holidays, and maybe pick up during or immediately after CodeMash 2017.

No guest this time, just a thank you message from yours truly.

Click Here to Sign up to be on my Podcast!

It's not too early to sign up to be a guest on the next season! If you are one of these people:

  • Developer
  • DevOps
  • Ops
  • QA
  • BA
  • PM
  • Security pro
  • Technical recruiter
  • Developer evangelist / developer advocate
  • If you've been on the show before
  • If you were in the audience of one of my sessions
  • Something else?

And you can talk about something that would be interesting to a technical audience for 10-15 minutes, then I want you on my show! You don't have to be an expert, you just have to be an enthusiast.

Matt Bok is back yet again for an extra long, extra special episode. (Check out episode 16 for our last discussion on retro gaming). Just in time for the holiday season, we discuss the Atari Flashback portable and the NES Classic Edition.

Show notes:

Want to be on the next episode? You can! All you need is the willingness to talk about something technical.

Theme music is "Crosscutting Concerns" by The Dirty Truckers, check out their music on Amazon or iTunes.

Jesse Riley is thinking about giving it all up and becoming a farmer.

Show Notes:

Jesse Riley is on Twitter

Want to be on the next episode? You can! All you need is the willingness to talk about something technical.

Theme music is "Crosscutting Concerns" by The Dirty Truckers, check out their music on Amazon or iTunes.

Nic Raboy is using OAuth with Node and mobile development.

Show Notes:

Nic Raboy is on Twitter

Want to be on the next episode? You can! All you need is the willingness to talk about something technical.

Theme music is "Crosscutting Concerns" by The Dirty Truckers, check out their music on Amazon or iTunes.

Matthew D. Groves

About the Author

Matthew D. Groves lives in Central Ohio. He works remotely, loves to code, and is a Microsoft MVP.

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