Monday, January 09, 2017


Not a lot that I really enjoyed in this, except maybe super-beardy Chris Pratt. That was definitely fun. There's one sorta-twist in the film, but it's barely even that, and it happens quite early on. It is important to the romantic relationship, but—well, I won't spoil it now.

I'll spoil it later, after a warning. =)

If you've seen a trailer or ad, except for the sorta-twist, you pretty much know what you're getting. A couple of fine specimens are stranded on a spaceship, faced with the possibility of living out their lives within its hull, never reaching their destination. We get a sort of Robinson Crusoe couple—Jim the mechanic and Aurora the journo—castaways on a spaceship with AIs and robots as supporting characters. Not the most dazzling premise, but given the power of a big budget, it could be taken to some very interesting and visually stunning places, especially when Arthur, the android bartender, suggests making the best of the situation. Y'know, basically, the starship is your oyster.

Yeah, I don't like oysters, but forget that. We see them indulge in some harmless vices and future fun, but man, they could've gone further and funner. Missed opportunities to amp up the space courtship and give us something truly big-screen-worthy.

Why don't you show us what movies or TV shows they choose to watch?

Then we get to see Jim apparently exhaust his amusement options and enter despair. This could also have been mined for more, in repetition and chaos and waste.

And of course, there's an existential threat to deal with. It was difficult for me to care all that much, given its vague explanation/portrayal.

Despite how impressive Pratt's Grizzly Adams beard is, alas, I cannot recommend this. I can give you more of the why, but I feel I have to give up the sorta-twist to do it, so, after this paragraph, I'll ramble further—WITH SPOILERS…

When I first saw the trailer for the film, I was mildly psyched. As soon as the movie came out, right before Christmas, I lost that. Tonight, I was looking for some candy and felt like this might hit the spot. I was kind of hoping for this to be something I could mentally insert into THE EXPANSE as an alt tale of the 100-some year journey of the Mormon Ark named the Nauvoo.

Mmm…Not so much. Underwhelming on the sci-fi front. Annoying on the plot front.

I appreciate the basic EVA suit design (still annoyed every time I see a helmet that's brightly lit on the inside, but I think designers are trying to be careful about pairing that with bright/brighter exterior lights these days), the mag boots, and the tethers, but why no propulsion options?

The thing that really bugged me—you've got three arms of the ship spinning for centrifugal force as gravity, but every time the characters are looking out at the stars, they are not moving or spinning. I get that the movie is probably looking for a romantic view as backdrop to the courtship, but imagine and create a space for that in the hub of the ship! Might as well just do artificial gravity, bleah.

When Jim has to protect himself from some superhot plasma, he turns a door in the interior of the ship into a makeshift heat shield. Maybe I missed detail that explains the door's worthiness for this use, but it sure played a lot more like a sarcastic remark, maybe a joke, than a legit thoughtful precaution. Needless to say, it worked.

And the plot front…So, it's basically YOU'VE GOT SPACE MAIL. You remember YOU'VE GOT MAIL? Substitute Pratt for Hanks and Lawrence for Ryan, change the bookstore war to a 120-year-long space voyage, Jim's engineering knowledge for Hanks's character's book mogul wealth, and that's pretty much it. The sorta-twist of the story/relationship is that Jim and Aurora are not accidentally woken up together. Only Jim is, and after a year of life alone on the ship, he decides to wake Aurora, to be the space-Eve to his space-Adam, or at least a compatible companion…Human company to help keep him from losing his mind and possibly taking his life.

Hrm…Y'know, later in the movie we see that they're able to raise chickens on board. Jim couldn't revive or artificially gestate a dog? =)

And hey, ho, whaddyaknow? They hit it off. Of course, Jim's spent weeks watching Aurora's profile/interview videos and reading everything he can find that she's written. In one of those videos, I think she says that a cup of coffee and a view of the Chrysler building can keep her writing forever. And when Jim leaves her a present of a Chrysler building sculpture assembled from machine parts and a cup of coffee, she doesn't question him on the inspiration. Maybe she told her that? Or maybe she's not surprised that he'd know because she'd assume that he checked out her videos and maybe she had done the same to him?

But we never see that. That would've been interesting. Having her present him with something that she could only know about after doing some digging. But no. We do see her sitting him down for an "interview," asking him to his face his motivation for leaving Earth.

Luckily, Jim has chosen wisely. He's picked his perfect match-whom-he-happened-to-study-and-obsess-over-for-weeks-maybe-months-as-she's-slept. Aurora even remarks, or maybe writes, about how amazing it is that two such unlucky people have lucked out in finding one another.

YOU'VE GOT MAIL bothered me for the same reasons. The guy has all this power and intel over the woman and she has no idea. Of course, it's revealed at some point, and she despises him for it, but then Something happens (I don't remember the deets of YGM now) and it's somehow all okay and forgiven.

Hrm…Maybe that means they DO belong together?

The Something in this case is that they both face immediate death by reactor core overload or something like that. Jim has to do an EVA to solve the problem, opening an exterior door to vent some superhot plasma or whatnot into space to cool the reactor, and of course, if successful, he will likely not survive.

There's a kinda interesting couple of seconds when they do some math over the comms. She says—Don't do it! I can't live without you! Better we die together! He says—There's 5000 other people on board…

Man, he gets to pull that out whenever he wants to for the rest of their lives, eh?

There's also an appearance by Laurence Fishburne as Gus Mancuso, as a slightly-magical crewman, woken early due to ship malfunction. He doesn't bestow too much wisdom, but does get them access to ship sections, controls, and capabilities not allowed to passengers. Y'know, before he abruptly dies. Oh! But before that, he DOES mention to Jim (on discovering that Jim woke Aurora) that he couldn't believe how lucky he got being trapped with Aurora, and starts to lead Aurora down a kinda bro-y path of yes-you're-right-it's-murder-but-don't-judge-Jim-too-harshly.

Weird bit of stuntcasting for the ship's captain, who doesn't appear until the last minute of the film in an epilogue showing the ship's arrival at their new green homeworld—Andy Garcia? Wack.

Oh, Michael Sheen as Arthur the android bartender seems like a waste of resources. Another missed opportunity. Maybe intentional misdirection of some kind? The ship's bar IS kind of gorgeous, and has this wonderful SHINING potential. It's a shame the story doesn't go that direction in a corrupted AI way. Would've made for a much better film.

The revelation of Jim's while-you-were-sleeping scheming to Aurora is delivered by Arthur as a result of poor word choice by Jim. When he says that there are "no secrets" between Aurora and himself, Arthur's small talk algorithm up and decides to reflect on how much Jim agonized over the decision to wake her from hibernation. Almost want to give the movie points for that, but the way it unfolds on screen is so clunky, I can't. And we've never seen Arthur in a situation like this before in the film. It's just…annoying.

Gosh, I hope this wasn't his last role before retiring from acting for activising…?

Yeah, so, I say skip it and watch MOANA or ROGUE ONE again instead. =)

Keep on keepin' on~

Sunday, December 18, 2016

ROGUE ONE: Rambling, continued…

Again with the spoilery whatever-comes-to-mind-ness on ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY…

------- SPOILERS FOLLOW -------

See my earlier ROGUE ONE rambles for a more complete picture of my madness…

Ramble 1 | Ramble 2

Chirrut confirms that Baze is also an ex Guardian of the Whills when they're imprisoned in Saw's cells. I didn't catch it the first time, but when Baze mocks Chirrut for praying to the Force to open the cell door, Chirrut fires back with a remark about how Baze used to be the most faithful guardian. Makes his "return" to the faith on Chirrut's passing a little more poignant.

I think the formal name is Guardian of the Whills, and their job was protecting the Kyber Temple. Cassian uses the phrase "Kyber Temple," but that seems off, right? I mean, the temple isn't made of or about Kyber crystals. I *think* it must have been a Jedi temple, taken over and exploited by the Empire, post-Order-66.

Tarkin does look better every time I see him, but still, uncanny. For me it's his eyes. They move oddly, and don't seem to focus where they should. Seeing them move reminds me of Roddy McDowell in PLANET OF THE APES—eyes looking out from behind a mask of flesh attached to a face. His lips also seem a bit…I dunno…gummy? Or too thin?

I wonder if Lucasfilm can continue to make digital improvements and just replace the digital video files in theaters via overnight downloads/replacements. Could they have done just that between Thursday night and Saturday? =)

Okay. I'm not so sure that Red Leader, Gold Leader, and Biggs were shot with new actors at all. I think that all of their footage in ROGUE ONE could have been constructed, pulled, and/or edited from shots—perhaps some previously unused?—from A NEW HOPE, and composited into new cockpits and background action. And their ship-to-ship comms audio could definitely be clipped and autotuned if needed from their A NEW HOPE lines.

I think the only sex scene in the film is when the two Star Destroyers destroy the gateway. I'm pretty sure the "Love Theme from ROGUE ONE" was playing during that.

Planets/moons/locations we visit…

  • The Erso black sand farm planet…
  • The Ring of F—something, an asteroid trading out post…
  • The Imperial prison work planet (from which Jyn is forcibly rescued—"Congratulations!" =)…
  • Yavin-4…Why did they re-create the exteriors so differently? If ROGUE ONE events occur days before those of A NEW HOPE, the jungle and temples should be practically identical…
  • Jedha, a "war zone." Jedha city/Kyber temple and Saw's hideout…
  • Eadu, a planet of storms and the Imperial Kyber processing facility, headed by Galen Erso…
  • Scarif, home to an Imperial Citadel Tower which holds structural engineering plans and data, cuz why not?
Some dialogue I'm trying to remember properly…
CASSIAN: Rebellions are built on hope.
Nice when Jyn recycles that before the Alliance council.
CHIRRUT: Are you serious? I'm blind!
Heh. *LOVE* Donnie Yen in this. I so wish he had more opps to strut his martial arts stuff. His take down of those troopers in Jadeh was wonderful—I wanted to applaud! But Baze's moment prevented me (thankfully =). Would have loved to have seen a fight sequence that was choreographed to better/best demo how Chirrut and Baze's skills could compliment one another.

I don't think I've ever seen that sand kicking bit before. Nice. =)
ADMIRAL RADDUS: Rogue One, may the Force be with you.
I think that's the first time I've heard/read that as "Rest in peace."
CHIRRUT: The strongest stars have hearts of Kyber.
This may be a SWU scientific truth? I don't know. I want/wanted this to mean something profound, and I can kind of see it as a description of Jyn herself, and maybe her father Galen, but I feel like I have to force it.
JYN: We'll take the next chance and the next and on and on until we win or all our chances are spent.
JYN: We'll find a way, or will find a way to find a way…
She makes it sound inspiring when she says it, but reading it, if you tilt your head just so, it can read as inane, no? But in the moment, against all odds, inspiring. And repeated by Cassian and Bodhi.

When I heard "Captain Antilles" in the Rebel base, I originally thought it was over a PA system, but now I'm thinking that it was actually Bail Organa who spoke the name, actually addressing the captain when he leaves Mon Mothma and enters the hangar area, giving him his orders—take Princess Leia, join/support the assault on Scarif, leave when you can and proceed to Tatooine so that Leia can recruit Ben Kenobi.

I also heard "Captain Syndulla" (Captain of the Ghost on REBELS) mentioned over a PA outside the temple/hangar/base, when Blue Leader stops the private who was monitoring communications and he explains to Mon Mothma that there is an attack on Scarif in progress. I did not spot the Ghost itself, but I wasn't thinking hard of looking for it. Maybe it's there somewhere.

When K2 explains to Cassian that to retrieve the Death Star plans he must "use the handles," I immediately thought: lamest (or most difficult? =) mini-game/challenge in the imminent ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS GAME.

Man! I *love* seeing X-wings take off into the skies of Yavin-4! =)

Also when they fly nap-of-the-Earth on/over massive Imperial space constructs or machinery. So cool =)

A disturbing thought about matters unsaid and not shown in the film… In the flashback dream to Jyn's childhood we see the Erso family unit enjoying a decent middle class Imperial life, an evening in for which Dad has recruited Mom to help entertain his boss. Very 1950s TV. Jyn wanders to the living room, maybe woken from slumber. Galen sees him and notes that she looks frightened… Why? And when she looks past her father to her mother, standing in the next room with Krennic maybe apparently gazing at her?, it is not happiness she sees on Lyra's face.

Is it just life under the thumb of the Empire encapsulated in that slice of life, or is it something more? Something darker? Maybe something Jyn doesn't consciously understand or acknowledge, as she doesn't pin anything on Krennic when she faces him at the top of the transmitter.


May the Force be with you…

Keep on keepin' on~

Saturday, December 17, 2016

ROGUE ONE: Second screening download…

Another ramble of movie thoughts after a second screening of ROGUE ONE. Beware—SPOILERS!

Oh, I don't think I actually said this in my earlier post, but I LOVE IT! Probably my best time at a STAR WARS film since ROTJ.

Okay, rambling on…

On second viewing, Tarkin is definitely CG, but looks really good. I think I might've believed it was a human actor w/some good makeup if only the eyes were done right. There's something off in how they focus (or don't, properly) and dart in a couple of moments.

Leia *is* flesh and blood (or if she isn't, well, frickin done, ILM =). Just slightly off in a look-alike way. My first screening was a late show and maybe my eyes were going and I think that seeing CG Tarkin prejudiced me when spotting other characters from ANH. Red and Gold Leaders, along with Biggs (the second Blue pilot to sound off after Blue Leader), all look like actors, probably ADR'd/overdubbed with autotuned dialogue from ANH. In any case, I love seeing these "old friends" on screen again.

After her first interaction w/Chirrut and spotting Baze in Jadeh City, Jyn asks Cassian who they are and he calls them the Guardians of the Whills. They protected the temple when there was still something to protect. He also makes a remark about how they're still around, just causing trouble. That seems odd/unfair, no? Or is he answering a different question?

I never quite got who/what the "Whills" are in Lucas lore. The entire epic is supposed to be from the Journal of the Whills. I always pictured these tall creatures with gangly limbs and wizened faces. Can't remember where that comes from, but probably a McQuarrie painting. =)

The music hit me better in some spots, but I guess I just don't love the main theme for of this film, the fanfarey one that plays with the title card.

I know there's no crawl, and that makes sense to me, comparing the nature of this story vs. the nine episodes, but I wish there was some way to work in the original theme. It *does* belong with the crawl, tho. O well.

Random thought that struck me about this film vs. the Skywalker bloodline story—this, and maybe other such films in the SWU, are like side missions in a game. I really do hope that Lucasfilm allows itself to explore the SWU at different scales and in different genres and tones once it gets a fix on the interest and success of this and the Han Solo film. I'd love to see a film about the acquisition of the Death Star 2/Endor intelligence before/during events of ROTJ, but have it be more cloak-and-light-dagger spycraft than military espionage and assaults. Of course, sadly, in the end, that information was meant to get into the hands of the Rebels, right? But the movie that tells that story will end with mission: accomplished.

Definitely felt the deaths more this time around. K2, we hardly knew you. Or did we know you better than most, actually? Except for Jyn, the character building is done in quick and pretty broad strokes, strong strokes, and successful for the most part, but whatev—friendships/brother/sisterhoods forged under fire, right?

K2's passing probably hit me hardest, softening me up for Chirrut, Bhodi, and Baze. Although, with Chirrut and Bhodi, their deaths were sort of transmogrified into Baze's last stand/march, when he wades into the remaining troopers blasting, taking hits, and then accepting his end in the detonation of a trooper's fallen grenade. I wish that march had been longer. It really felt like it was building to a Toshiru Mifune samurai-esque last stand, body riddled with arrows—well, tagged with blaster marks, I guess, but cutting down and then thrashing at anyone who attacks/approaches, until he takes everyone he can with him.

Or something.

Make ten men feel like a hundred! Would've liked for "ten" to have been an accurate count. I thought there might've been just ten on board the shuttle, but once they drop and roll out to light up the Citadel, it looked like there had to be maybe twice that. Maybe make twenty men feel like two hundred?

Don't know when I'll have the time, but I'd really like to watch/re-watch CLONE WARS and REBELS (only watched WARS on Cartoon Network back in the day and missed a few and never got to final season online, blerg) to connect some dots for myself. I'm sure that some of those project code names in the Scarif Citadel were callbacks to episodes, right—Black Saber? And I gotta see Saw in the CLONE WARS era. I honestly can't remember, but imagine him being a great character for Anakin foreshadowing of course.

I was hoping to catch Krennic babying his shoulder in present day, a sign of the lasting mark Lyra Erso left him with before she was struck down.

The effects of Saw's brainsucking lie detector creature definitely wear off. I wish there was a line or two about that, from Saw, or Bhodi, or maybe Force-sensitive Chirrut. Saw's losing-one's-mind remark made it sound like he'd effectively be lobotomized or amnesiac.

I like Jyn's no-nonsense speech to the Rogue One troops before leaving the shuttle on Scarif. About taking that chance, then the next one, and the next one, until we win or until we run out of chances. It's somehow hopeful and yet realistic. Boils the impossible mission down into the simplest bite-sized morsels, challenges that can be taken, met, and won, then on to the next.

Find a way.

Her "May the Force be with us" was great, as was Admiral Raddus's "May the Force be with you, Rogue One" from orbit.

On Yavin-4, when Bail explains to Mothma that he's sending someone he trusts with his life to recruit his old Jedi friend, we hear Captain Antilles paged. That timing makes me want to connect the dots, Captain Antilles, Artoo and Threepio's master before Luke, is charged with delivering Leia to Tatooine. However, the assault on Scarif diverts him, placing him, the Tantive IV, Leia, and the droids right where they need to be to make STAR WARS happen. Nice and neat. =)

Can anyone tell me if "Captain Antilles" and "Wedge Antilles" are the same guy? Is "Antilles" like "Smith" in the SWU? REBELS introduced us to Wedge this season, right?

Keep on keepin' on~

Friday, December 16, 2016

ROGUE ONE: Post-screening download…

I'm gonna just ramble out my thoughts on ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY here. Whatever comes to mind, spoilerful notes and thoughts included.


Looks like a full space station out tonight—fitting for a first screening of ROGUE ONE =)

I've done my best to ignore, avoid, and miss all buzz, hype, leaks, and BTS whatnot about this film and I'm very glad I did. Its story managed to surprise me in a couple of pretty basic and important ways.

It dovetails with the beginning of EPISODE 4, pretty much because it must. Rogue One succeeds in extracting the technical readouts of that battle station. Only one Rebel ship that received the plans survives the arrival of Vader's Star Destroyer and one copy of those plans makes it onto a Blockade Runner that barely escapes, and it's this Runner we see at the beginning of EP 4.

At first blush, this feels wrong. It seems like there should be more time, and maybe space—a couple of stops, rendezvouses, or maybe ship transfers?—between this ending and the beginning of A NEW HOPE, right? But remember, at the start of STAR WARS, there is only one copy of the plans, it is precious, unique. This means there was no time or opportunity to make and transmit and/or launch copies to other Rebel contacts. And that means that the blockade runner we see captured by Vader's Star Destroyer is the one that escaped him over Scarif. It's also the blockade runner that Bail Organa dispatched to contact Obi-Wan Kenobi, a trusted friend and Jedi. All of the math works out.

Of course, if you want to ignore Occam's Razor, you might imagine that the Blockade Runner makes it to some rendezvous point, the data is copied and passed on to let's say five other ships, and all six ships then make a run for Yavin-4 thru various circuitous courses. Vader and the Empire manage to destroy them all until only Leia's ship remains, the one which originally received the Rebel transmission.

But, y'know, the momentum of those last minutes really does want to connect directly to the first minutes of A NEW HOPE.

The events, the time involved, just *feels* so compressed, counterintuitive, surprising. Maybe that's good, tho, at least for me, because it made me THINK about how it should have happened, which I somehow never actually have. =)

And I gotta say, I went into this expecting a feel-good big-win story. I mean, we know they get the plans, right? But I hadn't really thought it through… After all, "Many Bothans died," right? Only while I was watching ROGUE ONE, in the scene in Rebels central on Yavin 4 when Jyn Erso passes along her father's message and tries to rally the Alliance forces to assault the Imperial whatzit on Scarif, did it click for me that this was going to be a SEVEN SAMURAI scenario. A victory, but at a high cost.


"Many Bothans died" was Mon Mothma speaking of the Death Star/Endor plans in RETURN OF THE JEDI. There was no reference to the dangers involved in acquiring the Stardust plans in A NEW HOPE. My badd.


The Force is with me and I am one with the Force. I *love* me some Donnie Yen in the SWU. =)

Donnie's Chirrut Imwe is a Jedi Temple guardian. In the aftermath of the Clone Wars and the ascendence of the Empire, he is out of a legit job, but still keeps close to his station, the temple on Jedha, where the Empire is mining Kyber Crystals.

Hrm… Are there a mess of tiny Kyber asteroids in orbit around Endor? In a belt in the Yavin system?

I'm liking to think that guardians might be Force-strong individuals who were found or realized their connection at too late an age to begin Youngling-Padawan training.

I'm fuzzy on whether his longtime space companion Baze Malbus was also a temple guardian. By his demeanor and fighting style, it seems not, but then again, his resilience and uncanny save-the-day timing might be signs of Force-strength, right? Just manifesting in a not-very-Jedi-Knight-y way.

Vader sabering and Forcing his way thru the Rebels is pretty sweet. =)

Felt like a pretty awesome remix of the original trilogy films. The Death Star, deadly chasm shootouts and drops, narrow catwalks over empty air, blaster turrets, X-Wings, AT-ATs, the Rebel fleet caught between Imperial forces and an energy shield, Yavin-4, Mothma and Dodonna, Red and Gold Leaders, even Tarkin and Leia, and was that Biggs as part of Blue squadron?

Oh, the fate of the previous Red 5…

Tarkin and Leia…Still walking the uncanny valley. So close to getting out with Tarkin, tho. Strange, for me, it was the eyes that really broke him. I think all the rest of him was acceptable. As for Leia…I feel like maybe her skin was too polished, and maybe her eyes slightly too large for her face, perhaps to push her youthiness?

I wonder about the decision making involved in going CG with them. Gotta say, Red Leader and Gold Leader looked great, but I guess they had their flight suits, helmets, and gear to support them. They were less naked/exposed CG human than Tarkin and Leia. Is it because of the timing of the events of ROGUE ONE vs. that of A NEW HOPE? I mean they cast new performers for Mothma and Dodonna, right? I'm sure there are some decent lookalikes for both Peter Cushing and Carrie Fisher out there, at least, some close matches who could be prostheticked and thespianed to near perfection, right?


When Tarkin first appeared in ROGUE ONE, I thought maybe they would do something clever with him as a cameo, with his back to the camera and his face only appearing as a reflection in the space glass of his Star Destroyer. But, GMT's role turns out to be quite a bit more involved, smacking Orsen Krennic about.

Nice reference to the Death Star as Tarkin's baby/brainstorm.

Pretty awesome little "fix" for the exhaust port vulnerability. Always the butt of fan/nerd jokes, having it be an intentional design feature makes a lot of sense. Too bad Dodonna and Mothma never mention Galen Erso's hand in this in A NEW HOPE, tho, right? Of course, that would seem a bit conspicuous or superfluous in the context of the Skywalker-centric story, heh.

K2SO the reprogrammed Imperial droid was an excellent addition to STAR WARS's droid menagerie. I think it's pretty great how STAR WARS stories can get me to "fall" for droid characters. Alan Tudyk's K2 immediately called to mind AP-5 of STAR WARS REBELS.

Alan Tudyk's part in ROGUE ONE reinforces the "Can't stop the signal" deja view-ness I get with SERENITY. The final transmission of the technical readouts involves a sequence of cartridge insertion and switch flipping on a transmission tower/device that totally reminded me of Mal's signal broadcast.

A last blast of thoughts…

Man, it's a gorgeous frickin STAR WARS film. SOOO great seeing X-wings and TIEs going at it in bright and shiny daylight.

K2's death scene is wonderful.

Did Tarkin order the Death Star to target the transmission dish?

I love that Krennic gets to see that "his" Death Star is his doom. Reminds me of when Bucho's right hand man gets taken out by his beloved truck in DESPERADO. =)

Giachinno's music didn't quite work for me everywhere. It was strongest when it was, or played off of, John Williams's original themes. I get that this is the first in the "spin off" realm of STAR WARS, films that aren't focused on the Skywalker bloodline, but man, I *really* missed the fanfare opening.

I wonder how this movie plays for someone who hasn't seen STAR WARS before. A pretty decent sci-fi war film?

Chirrut's blind Force-adept action sequences were excellent. Nice to see a non-lightsaber staff doing some damage.

Has Vader made Mustafar into his "home?" Interesting that he's in something like a Bacta tank bath when we see him. Treatment for his apnea? =)

Also nice to see the no-look force-choke. Bad-ass. =)

Allright, that's all I've got for now. Maybe after another few days, screenings, weeks, I'll have more or even different, second thoughts. I'll try to get them down here if I can motivate.

May the Force be with you…
Keep on keepin' on~

Sunday, December 04, 2016

WESTWORLD: pre-finale crazy talk…

Some rambling thoughts on WestWorld-ness before the first season finale plays…


This revelation was not a surprise, but I *am* annoyed that I didn't untangle the name/wordplay before last episode. I just hadn't thought about it and had forgotten Bernard's full name until I saw it in print again: BERNARD LOWE. Which probably every fan by now knows or has seen anagrams out to ARNOLD WEBER.
That find is kind of at odds with Ford's own words, when we see him bring Bernard online for the first time and apparently pulls the name "Bernard" from out of thin air.
Perhaps Ford's own programming doesn't catch that consciously? Heh, yeah. I have a zany out there theory that Arnold created Ford and Ford created Bernard. Ford's mechanical family fits Arnold's philosophy of trauma = character, right?
Anyhow… So! Ford created Bernard in the image of his murdered-by-Delores partner, Arnold. Do Hosts age? Does Bernard look the way Arnold did when he died? If so, then…
I haven't found the time to do a re-watch, but when I do, maybe over the holidays…
I'm gonna want to look for scenes with just Bernard and a Host. Or Bernard with random Rosenrantzy types, if there are any such scenes. Cuz, the first time thru, we assume we're watching Bernard interact with someone or some Host. However, if Bernard was designed to look just like Arnold, then we may have actually been watching ARNOLD interact with someone or some Host, and thusly many of his words might have more and/or different significance, and also place the conversation 34 years in the past.
I think that Ashley Stubbs (security chief) getting lured out to the park and than captured by the (G)Host Nation as part of Bernard's (contingency) plan. Well, I *hope* that's the case. I like Bernard! And Ashley is the only one who sussed out and acknowledged Bernard's relationship with Theresa. He has an eye and head for uncovering truths and secrets, so Bernard setting him on a trail that leads to Ford's levels of manipulation and deceit might avenge or even save him.
But—the lure was Elsie's transponder signal or phone or whatever. Did Bernard remember what happened to Elsie before confronting Ford with infernal device Clementine?
But actually—he knew that Elsie was conspicuously absent (supposedly away), and knew that she'd gone snooping in the park before that. So, Bernard could have programmed the park's system to register Elsie's signal without an actual source present.
I'm really hoping for a revelation that shows us that the real world, outside the park, is a serious mess. Dystopian in some way or ways? Post-WW3? Environmental catastrophe? Plague? Corporate fascist state/s? Maybe an extreme 1%/99% schism? It *is* implied that it takes a decent fortune to afford a ticket to WestWorld, right? A playground for the rich.
What if WestWorld is in a bubble, or a Matrix-like sim, or in orbit…? =)
So the board itself is behind the transmission of proprietary data out of the park, presumably to some umbrella corp's military R&D division, right?
But maybe it's something else? And maybe Ford knows about it. Why would he allow it to go on? Perhaps because it's information he doesn't give a damn about.
Maybe it's not technical info at all, but compromising data/recordings of the behavior of certain patrons?
Maybe he's allowed certain data to leave his kingdom because he knows it's useless or unimportant? Or because he's intentionally poisoned it so that it's useless.
When Bernard goes searching for the Woodcutter data, it’s registered as an anomaly. When he asks if any other anomalies are found in the park, Ford’s “family” is returned as five hits.
Charlotte had Sizemore load up a decommissioned Host—Delores's father?—with the data that didn't make it out via the Woodcutter, right? But we learned from Felix and Sylvester (the two cartoon cats =) that modern Hosts are designed to self-destruct on leaving the park. Presumably this is no big secret, right? So Sizemore and Charlotte would take steps to disable this…
If they can't modify the Host—Felix and Sylvester made it sound seriously nontrivial, right? Requiring something like building a new body from scratch?—that means that they'll have to deactivate the detection grid that signals that a Host is leaving or outside the park.
Perfect opportunity for Maeve to escape as well!
But—how the heck did she arrange for all of this to happen?
Hrm…Has the show been playing with time even within a single era (the "now")? So that the shenanigans with the Woodcutter and Charlotte and the data occur slightly later than Maeve's awakening and are in fact the result of Maeve's choreography? She could have tinkered with the Woodcutter's programming to get him to tilt the way he did, and then force the board to find another way to get the data out of the park—in the body of a Host!
I think a lot of people are set on MIB being an older Will, but bits and pieces of MIB's dialogue don't quite tip the scale decisively for me. Is Logan the prince of the money family that saves Delos? Does young Will marrying into Logan's family give him enough power to "save" Delos? Even if Logan dies in some park related mishap, or the fallout from one? I don't know.
The idea that MIB kept a dark side hidden from his wife and daughter works for both Will and Logan, with Will's dark side manifesting itself for the first time in his visit to WestWorld. Maybe he has to kill Logan? Or not save Logan? Or let Delores do him in?
His connection to Maeve… It's weird and kind of weak to me that MIB would test himself by savagely killing two Hosts, a mother and child, in WestWorld. *Knowing* their Hosts, is it really a test of his potential for evil/darkness? Hrm…Maybe only if he believes that Hosts are *alive* as well…
Which—points to MIB being Will.
But—maybe Logan does eventually see and acknowledge something different in Delores alongside Will. After all, she's not really hiding her difference-ness 30 years back, is she? And if that's the case, Logan may know, or be ready to believe, that Hosts have the potential for the spark of life?
Yeah, I'm reaching…
The maze itself is the sum of a man’s life—the choices he makes, the dreams he hangs on to. And there at the center, there’s a legendary man who had been killed over and over again countless times, but always clawed his way back to life. The man returned for the last time and vanquished all his oppressors in a tireless fury…He built a house…Around that house, he built a maze so complicated, only he could navigate through it…I reckon he’d seen enough of fighting.
MIB is repeatedly told that the Maze is not for him. Whom is it for, then? If we buy into Arnold as benevolent Creator, then I’d say it’s for the Hosts. A trial for a Host to experience, at the end of which she or he is made…complete, or free, or, y’know, something like that, right?
While I love the idea of a game hidden within the world of the WW park, I’m not sure I buy any more that it’s all Arnold’s doing. It seems like it might be a diversion, or a trick, to somehow trigger Arnold’s sentience Easter eggs, to fool potentially troublesome Arnold code or Hosts into revealing themselves. Maybe it *is* Arnold’s creation, but a distraction from his real secrets…A shame to think of Delores and Teddy’s and even MIB’s journeys as a decoy, tho, right?
But, doesn’t Maeve’s arc seem like the real maze?
Randomish aside—LOVED the appearance of a “Minotaur” as part of Wyatt’s marauders. =)
While watching this show, I've been torn between sitting back and leaning forward. Do I want to work at seeking and solving puzzles, or do I want to sit back and enjoy a fascinating, ingenious, gorgeous, and thoughtful bit of storytelling? I’ve been watching it pretty much alone, too, and keeping away from reviews and theories, only chatting with a high school friend who’s been very much more lean-in than I have been so far. Maybe I’ll lean-in harder next season…
Who’s got the energy, tho? *sigh*
Well, season finale and all, I guess I can mostly sit back for this one, right?
Riiiiight… =)
Keep on beepin' on~

Monday, July 18, 2016

12 MONKEYS: Theory-palooza 2

Got a couple more partially baked notions to share…

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So far, the conflict over the undoing of the plague-pocalypse and then the destruction of Time has been between two parties—the Witness and his Army of the 12 Monkeys versus Project Splinter and Jennifer Goines and her Daughters.

But in the wake of their conflict, they have created a third, de facto party—the allies of Team Splinter and the discarded pawns of the Witness. People whose lives amount to collateral damage in the conflict between these two temporal superpowers.

I believe that someone could organize these individuals into a strategic and effective force that can make a difference in the outcome of this time war—Olivia.

She’s familiar with the Word of the Witness and the worldly workings of the Army over decades of time. She has visited the Red Forest and can navigate others to it via red leaf tea. She is gifted with supernatural strength and healing, and may very well be Splinter-compatible (like the Messengers, whose DNA and abilities contribute to her own, thanks to Vivian Rutledge).

She’d be like Professor X, rescuing and recruiting his X-Men, or Nick Fury collecting Secret Warriors, locating literal and figurative “orphans” of the conflict—the likes of Samuel Ramse, Agent Robert Gale, Gale’s granddaughter, Victoria Mason and her son, Elliot Jones, maybe even her brother, Tall Man—and recruiting them to join her in defying the will, plans, and Word of the Witness.

To assemble the most effective force possible, she’d need one thing that she’s apparently missing—time travel. As far as we know, she’s never engaged in actual time travel herself. She travels thru time the usual way—from past to future, one day at a time. Father created her in Germany in the 50s; Vivian brought her to America in 1961 to raise her; she grew up to become one of the leaders of the Army of the 12 Monkeys; and she rejects the Witness and his Word in 2016.

It shouldn’t be THAT difficult for her to get access to Elliot Jones’s Project Splinter, right? We know that she quits the Witness in 2016, but we don’t see her turn in her Monkey gun and badge. She may still retain her position in the Army and its authority, and with that authority, she should be able to finagle access to Elliot’s to-the-future Splinter device, right? And that gets her access to the future. And once in the future, she should potentially have access to all of Time (via Katarina’s Project Splinter, or perhaps the Witness’s Titan?).

Or maybe she contacts a Splinter agent in 2016 at the Emerson. Could she approach young Katarina? She wouldn’t need Elliot’s device if she can enlist the aid of a Splinternaut.

Let’s assume she gets access to time travel tech. She could turn 2044 Titan into the action-packed final showdown of TIME BANDITS! She could Splinter in allies from any point in time, including…

Samuel Ramse (post-Core-feedback blast, older? or perhaps still youthy, as proof for Ramse and company of her benevolent, anti-Witness intentions)
Agent Robert Gale
Gale’s granddaughter
Elliot Jones (2016 or later)
Jennifer & Daughters (2044, they stayed behind at the Bleeders’ camp)
Victoria Mason & son (rescued from the Immortal by Cole and Ramse 1975)
Tall Man (a future version?)

Could she save those who have died, or appeared to have died?

David Eckland? (dis-Splinter-ated)
Eyepatch Ramse?
Charlie Messenger?

And, since Olivia and none of these allies were actually present for the events we witness in 2044 Titan at the end of “Blood Washed Away,” they could Splinter in before them and pre-emptively undoing their deaths without causing a paradox.

Maybe undoing isn’t necessary, tho. This would be wild, but what if Olivia’s agents are already at Titan when Ramse, Deacon, Hannah, and Marcus are killed? They’re the ones (some of the ones) in the masks and robes, and have faked our heroes’ deaths! =)

Yeah…Probably not. Boo.

And it’s probably “easier” to have C+C show up at the Bleeders’ camp to rally Jennifer and her Daughters to join them and save Ramse and the gang before they get Katar’d up.

Better to keep Olivia’s Task Force O under wraps until they’re REALLY needed, right? =)

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What is it that they produce at that factory, anyway? Think maybe they’re owned by, or become, a division of Markridge?

If the factory IS consumed by a massive paradox (more powerful than what we saw in “Blood Washed Away”), perhaps it’s by design. The paradox may have blasted the factory, its machinery, and materials out of reality and into the red tea zone, ready to be shaped and transformed into Titan.

I suspect that Elliot Jones is familiar with the red tea zone, thanks to some mind-expanding experimentation with the green-to-red ivy he created in his lab. He might understand the “timelessness” of the dimension, and figured out how to exploit it to develop the technology and complete the construction required to make Tall Man’s Project Titan a reality.

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Unmake history!

Keep on keepin’ on~