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This is a spoiler-free review of “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.” An updated review with spoilers will be posted in the weeks ahead.
Nick and Dyer will discuss "Rogue One" in episode 7 of NW Nerd, coming Dec. 21.
Dyer’s “Rogue One” rating: NER
BY Dyer Oxley
If “The Force Awakens” proved that fans could get Star Wars back – after years of putting up with the three films that shall not be named – “Rogue One” not only confirms that, but further proves that Star Wars has more places to go.
And audiences will want to come along.
In case you’re out of the loop on “Rogue One,” here’s a brief overview. This film is set between the more recent prequel films and “A New Hope” released in 1977. In fact, it’s mere days before Luke Skywalker finds a couple droids for sale on Tatooine. But this is not Luke’s story. This is the story of the Empire constructing the Death Star – the major plot device from the original film. A new band of rebels are charged with finding out what the Empire is up to, what its secret weapon is, and how to defeat it – setting up Luke to save the day in “A New Hope.”
This film is not going to offer some new revelation, or give the overall story line a push forward. We already know where it leads. We’ve known for nearly four decades. But it does offer something fresh and appealing. Many viewers will be quite pleased with what “Rogue One” has to offer.
There will, of course, be fervent fans that will object to how the film did not deliver some grand new Star Wars stage, or that it hearkens too strongly to the old feel of the original three films. But "Rogue One" serves its purpose nicely: to be fun and entertaining, and keep the franchise relevant and moving along while the studio works away at the primary film series. At the very least, it will provide plenty of material for cosplayers. And it keeps up the premise that in the Empire, everyone is always well-stocked with pocket pens.
“Rogue One” is a Star Wars film for fans that have stuck with the series for decades, and have been waiting for it to grow up with them. It sticks with the original feel – when Han shot first – but is a modern movie. This is for adults passionate about the story, but could not stomach Jar Jar Binks. It is certainly the most mature film in the franchise, garnering a PG-13 rating and earning it.
For example -- while I’m sure Disney is already on it -- this film won’t sell as much kid-friendly merchandise. There are no quirky characters aimed at children. In fact, the characters that serve as comedic relief are not goofy or funny in the immature, childlike sense. Rather, they are witty and bright. You’re laughing at actual jokes, not because some cartoon fell down and got a boo-boo.
The film’s action is what earns it a PG-13 rating. The battle scenes might as well have been scripted for a Vietnam War epic – except with blasters, droids and AT-ATs, of course.
A new hope for Star Wars
Viewers will still have to get past some pretty bad Hollywood clichés in “Rogue One” – the classic “Do/Don’t push this button / pull this lever.” But the film is able to overcome that.
Sitting in the theater as “Rogue One” played on the big screen, it was obvious that a Star Wars ambiance -- missing for years -- had returned. But it was being delivered through a modern lens. People jumped. Laughs were genuine. There was a sense of Hollywood awe that is hard to accomplish.
“The Force Awakens” that kick started a new era for Star Wars is part of the primary storyline. “Rogue One,” however, is within the same universe, but is more Star Wars adjacent. This perhaps gave filmmakers freedom to make a movie that took more risks. It could afford to be its own film, with its own feel without threatening the gold standard of the Skywalker story.
Through being its own film, "Rogue One" is able to fill out the Star Wars universe. You will get a wider sense of the world, or worlds, that Star Wars works within, and people that occupy them.
From the very first opening scene it is clear that an attempt was made to give “Rogue One” a heavy Star Wars feel, but not be a strict Star Wars movie. There is no majestic opening crawl of words on the screen, for example. Yet, from the start it is clear you are watching Star Wars. The music is another good example. It was not the traditional score, yet still felt very Star Wars.
But hardcore fans need not worry. This is, after all, a film that ties the major story line together. There are plenty of familiar faces, and the force does make a strong appearance. It may be its own film, but works because major players are still present.
I rated “Rogue One” NER (3 out of 4 stars). And I give this rating despite some obvious shortcomings (the previously mentioned clichés) – perhaps because of the hill that the Star Wars franchise had to climb to get this film.
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BY Dyer Oxley
A few folks have approached me after I discussed my butt chin theory on the NW Nerd Podcast. I fielded a lot of “what if,” or “what about this character” type questions. So I write this to clear up any confusion.
Before we get into this, let’s be clear, I have a butt chin myself. And this theory only represents my personal observations. Also, when it comes to superheroes, different artists have taken liberties with characters over the decades they've been drawn. Superman, for example, is sometimes shown with a cleft, and sometimes without. This is the same for Batman and so forth. So I concede that these characters I’m about to discuss are not always represented with a butt chin.
Physiognomy -- or making judgments about personality based on a person’s physical characteristics -- is nothing new. For generations it’s been used with aspects of pseudo and genuine science to gauge personality traits. And many have considered the cleft chin in this respect.
Growing up with a cleft chin, you are essentially emerging in the world with a butt on your face. This is often regarded as an attractive feature, but still, it’s there – the butt prominently featured on your face as you greet the world. This affects a person. It is a daily challenge.
So what happens to a person who grows up with this? How does it influence their character?
I contend that it either makes you or breaks you. In cases such as Superman, he leaps over his butt chin. Notice that his disguise is wearing glasses – being human. When he is his true self, he wears no mask, prominently showing off his chin.
Now let’s look at Batman. Bruce Wayne is well-known around Gotham. You would think that he would go through great lengths to be covert as he is Batman. He doesn’t want to be found out. But what part of Batman is not disguised? Batman’s cowl does not cover his chin – leaving it naked and shown to the world. Why? Why does he feature his chin?
Wolverine has been drawn differently over the decades depending on the artist. Jim Lee has been known to present Wolverine with a butt chin. And Hugh Jackman who plays Wolverine on the big screen has a slight butt chin himself. Jackman is widely regarded as an ideal representation of Wolverine in the flesh.
And what part of Wolverine’s face is shaved? He has some great chops, but his chin is free from obscurity.
Whether conscious or not, it’s as if the artists, or the characters within their own universe, are aware that something is going on here with the butt chin. Like purifying through fire, the characters overcame the butt on the face, and it molded their character for the better. It made them stronger people. Perhaps that is why their chins are so prominently displayed. It’s a badge of honor.
Now consider The Flash – no butt chin. And you’ll notice that with many depictions of his costume, the mask comes up to cover that portion of his face. His face is covered just like Batman’s, with the lower half revealed, yet his chin is covered.
Captain America has a similar situation with the chin strap for his helmet.
Spider-Man? He has a full mask. Why? His lessons never came from his chin, rather, learning that with great power comes great responsibility. The chin isn’t a factor and is therefore unseen.
Butt chins and villains
Just as a butt chin can make a superhero – refining their character – it can also break a person. This is where we get super villains. Perhaps some people are crushed under the weight of their butt chin and turn evil as a result.
Darkseid’s chin is often covered, similar to The Flash’s presentation. Could he have butt chin envy?
And Lex Luther – never a butt chin. He had a lot of events and reasons he turned evil. But he never had a butt chin to influence him. Could that have changed things? Could the challenge of a butt chin have molded his character for the better? It makes you wonder if the world was one chin dimple away from being spared a lot of tragedy.
Listen to Nick and Dyer's discussion at the 10 minute mark below.