Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Cause It's The World I Know....

   Maybe it is the time of year or recent events. It might even be a combination of both that compels this collection of thoughts. 2016 was the year of the reaper, but it feels like we lost more than just celebrities. It feels like we lost our country, purpose, and place in the world.

  I was truly saddened by the loss of Carrie Fisher and George Michael. I never knew either of them, but the loss of them has made me think. Princess Leia was the first Star Wars action figure my late grandma ever purchased for me. I played a ton of George Michael records on the radio over the years. I still think Freedom '90 is one of the best videos ever made. Video. Another thing that seems lost.

  The other night I was glued to, "Definitely Maybe." It's one of my favorite Ryan Reynolds movies, but it really focuses on the 90s. The time of the first Clinton Presidency and a time where it felt like the world truly had no limits. People still believed that they could be anything and little was holding them back. A lot of us just remember it as middle or high school.

   It was certainly a different time. The fear of job loss wasn't as big of a deal. Maybe I was just too young see that though. It felt like my parents had more money and their dollars stretched a lot farther. I think a lot of people's seemed to. We were a generation of kids poised to change the world for the better. Clinton was a president that actually talked to the youth of a nation. We went to college. We got involved in issues. We took a stand when it was the right thing to do. We broke barriers and focused on ourselves, but still found ways to help other people. We did it all to one of the greatest soundtracks in the history of music. The 90's era was the best for music. It just was. Things felt like they were together. These days it feels like everything is coming a part.

  Don't get me wrong. The 90's were filled with some things that we should regret. The Rodney King beating is still just as disgusting today as it was then. So are the riots that followed. It might've been the lack of social media, but it felt like those horrible things made u grow for the better. It feels like the incidents of racial violence now just tear us further apart. I was always fortunate to be taught to see past color. I never thought at this stage of my life that our country would be this divided over skin tones. Back then, we looked to the future with hope and now it seems to be replaced by fear.

  It feels like we as a people have lost our spirit. We stopped focusing on our own backyards and condemned other people for not doing what we as individuals wanted. It used to be that people were allowed to be different. Some were artsy, some jocks, some alternative, and it seemed to work. You might've been laughed at for being last picked, but it didn't hurt or lead to harm. It was accepted that not everyone wins the game and there were no participation trophies. I am still not sure that those help with self esteem.

  We are more connected now than ever, but we seem to have lost sight of what is in front of us. It happens almost everywhere. News stories come from following D list celebrities. Radio stations are force fed from Los Angeles, New York, Dallas, or wherever. People have ignored their own lives to follow someone else's.  The sad thing is that we probably have not hit the lowest point yet. The good thing is once you are at the bottom, the only place to go is up.

  A new year is on the horizon. I hope that we become a little more self aware. I hope we take a look at our own back yard first. I hope we spend less time sending pictures of our own lives and actually doing something with them. I hope that protests become peaceful and the world becomes tolerant. It has been said that everything is cyclical. If that is the case, maybe adopting the ideas of the past can build a brighter future.


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Rogue One: The Star Wars Story We Never Knew We Wanted

  Almost everyone loves Star Wars. It is a part of American culture. The love for the franchise has always been there, but it had been, "awakened," last year. The Star Wars craze is bigger than ever. This year we are getting a prequel that we never asked for. A story that we didn't really need to hear. A Star Wars with no Jedi or characters we are invested in. We are getting Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and let me start by saying, you will be glad that we did.

    The fledgling Rebel Alliance hears whispers of the Empire building a super weapon and contemplates their next move. An intelligence officer discovers a thief that is the daughter of the scientist building it and sets out to rescue/ capture her. They enlist her help to find a defected cargo pilot and seek out a rebel extremist. The Jedi are gone and this small group of rebels set out on a path that will determine the fate of the galaxy,

  The movie is dark. It has a different tone than any Star Wars we have seen yet. It is far darker than Revenge of The Sith. We see a different view of the galactic war and it is violent. We see how out numbered the rebels are. It shows us new worlds and ties beautifully into the history. Gareth Edwards has created a movie that fits so perfectly with the film that started it all. We get some new ships and new people. The small group of rebels are interesting in their own rights. We get a quick back story on everyone involved, but they all have their moments to shine.

  We see the Empire at the height of it's power and it is so well done. There is internal conflict with the villains. The storm troopers are done in the same form as a new hope. AT-AT walkers, T.I.E. Fighters, the Death Star make appearances. All of them with great accuracy. Rogue One not only tells it's own story, but it introduces new elements of Star Wars lore and they all work beyond well. I wish I could spoil all of the cameos and nods to the films that came before, but it just wouldn't be fair.

  The one character that I will spoil a bit is Forrest Whitaker's Saw Gerrera. He was a character on the Clone Wars cartoon. We get an older version of him in Rogue One. The rebellion and wars have taken their toll on him. The casual movie goer will not know him, but it is very cool to see another part of the over all Star Wars universe brought to life. The film truly gives us some great characters. Donnie Yen's, "Chirrut Imwe," and Alan Tudyk's, "K-2SO," have their moments, but this movie is a father daughter story. It is all about Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones).

   Rumors have been out there that she is really Rey from "The Force Awakens," mother. She isn't. Sorry for that spoiler. She is her own character. She is troubled. She is strong. She is the perfect character to center this story around. Rogue One was a story that most fans didn't ask for. It has cameos. It has some great Vader moments. It has plenty of cool references. It is very much Star Wars. It is also very much it's own kind of movie. The force is strong with this one. So strong in fact that it already has a sequel. It leads perfectly into Star Wars: A New Hope. In this case, the end is truly the beginning.