‘Rise of Skywalker’ teaser should have included the fall of Kathleen Kennedy

Rogue One: Gareth Edwards delivers solid film for fans with impossible demands

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It’s hard not to feel bad for Gareth Edwards, director of  Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The guy was asked to direct a stand-alone Star Wars film that felt new and fresh while simultaneously resonating with fans who watched Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. He also had to direct a film that would satisfy the moviegoers who grew up with Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. The creative gaps he had to bridge with this project were near impossible to close, but yet he somehow managed to make it all work.

Is Rogue One a perfect movie? No. It certainly has its flaws. Most notably is the skimpy backstory for every major character, from Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) and Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), to Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker) and Chirrut Îmwe (Donnie Yen). The Star Wars franchise is enough of a cultural juggernaut that millions of people are already emotionally invested in this story  (i.e., Who captured the Death Star plans from the Empire and how did they pull it off?), but the screenplay by Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy was too lean. But I digress.

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Here is what you need to know for Rogue One:

  • Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen), and Imperial scientist, is forced at gunpoint to leave his family and work on the Death Star. His wife is killed, but his daughter escapes to a hideaway and is saved by Saw Gerrera.
  • The Rebellion has many factions, often working at odds with one another. Rebel Jyn Erso is captured early on in the movie but is rescued by Cassian and his repurposed Imperial droid K-2SO (Alan Tudyk).
  • Cassian has been a part of the Rebellion since he was six years old and has had to make some tough (deadly) decisions working in the world of espionage.
  • It is revealed in a smuggled hologram to Saw that Galen has secretly engineered a kill switch into the Death Star. If the Rebel Alliance can get the plans, then there is chance they can end the threat to the galaxy.
  • The Rebellion plans to use Jyn as a way of working with her old guardian, Saw, who is seen as an extremist. Elements of the Rebellion do not plan on working with Galen once he is found. Instead, they plan to kill him.
  • A series of events convinces Cassian that Galen truly was a good man trying to do his best in a horrible situation, and before long he, Jyn, and a motley crew go “rogue” to capture the plans to the Death Star. Initially reluctant bureaucrats within the Rebellion come to their aid when the crew of Rogue One put boots on the ground in enemy territory.
  • The movie ends right where Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope picks up.

In short, if you want to see a good Star Wars movie that emphasizes the “war” aspect of the franchise, then you should see Rogue One. It has a scene with Darth Vader that is worth the price of admission alone, solid space battles, and plenty of The Force courtesy of Donnie Yen’s character. If you don’t overthink the movie, then you should have a good time in the theater with friends and family.

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Editor’s Note: Feel free to head on over to The Conservative Book Club to check out the review I did for them.

Did ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ draw inspiration from Operation Focus during the Six-Day War?

Star Wars Force Awakens XWingThe new teaser trailer for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is out, and it looks pretty darn amazing. It’s got a little something old, a little something new, and George Lucas has been replaced by J.J. Abrams. Score. However, the history nerd in me has his interest piqued because of the squadron of X-Wing fighters seemingly headed into battle about 100 feet above a large body of water. Did Mr. Abrams draw inspiration from Israel’s Six-Day War — Operation Focus in particular? If so, then I’m more excited to see the film.

If you’re not familiar with what the Israeli air force did during the Six-Day War in 1967, then look it up. In short, Israel’s air force pulled off a daring operation in which they flew over the Mediterranean — so low that they would not be picked up by Egyptian radar — and then destroyed the entire Egyptian air force.

If J.J. Abrams needed the Rebel Alliance to pull off an inspiring win, then drawing from Operation Focus was a brilliant move. If it turns out to have absolutely nothing to do with the movie, then I guess we’re just left with really cool images of X-Wing Fighters flying over water. It’s a win-win situation.

Star Wars Force AwakensLet me know what you thought of the trailer below, and make sure to include your thoughts on the new lightsaber as well. I think the crossguard looks cool, but I’m not sure if it would work in battle. Since I’m not a Sith Lord, I’ll withhold judgment until December, 2015.

Greenpeace: Fear the Volkswagen Death Star

Do you remember the Volkswagen commercial with the cute kid in the Darth Vader costume? It turns out, he really is evil—according to Greenpeace. In a new ad by the liberal activist group, Kid Darth is confronted by Junior Jedi, a Child Chewie, your favorite Star Wars droids, and Kid Lando (with a mustache) due to Volkswagen’s adherence to the Dark Side (i.e., common sense). According to the admittedly slick spin off:  “VW is threatening our planet by opposing cuts to CO2 emissions.”

Just as liberals consistently fail to define “the poor” or “the rich” when it comes to public policy debates, liberal environmentalists fail to define what they mean by “threatening our planet.” To most of us, CO2 (otherwise known as plant food), doesn’t seem like the catalyst for an Alderaan-type apocalypse for Mother Earth. The conservative realizes that the Volkswagen employee likes to drink clean water and breath clean air just as much as the Greenpeace activist. The conservative dislikes lung cancer just as much as the next guy. Oppose Greenpeace’s standard for what constitutes an environmentally friendly automobile? You’re the equivalent of a Coruscant drug dealer. As the “Rebel Manifesto” states:

Volkswagen has a history of lobbying against the strong European standards that we need to kick our oil addiction. As the biggest car company in Europe, with the biggest responsibility, VW must change and support strong standards from now on.

Humans don’t have an oil addiction; Greenpeace has technophobia, particularly anything that runs on an internal combustion engine. Bees build beehives and we build cities, but the liberal environmentalist fails to acknowledge our machines are, indeed, natural. The Star Wars analogy falls apart when viewers realize that liberals want us all to become clones to their progressive worldview…or die. Remember when British environmentalists thought it would be funny if kids who weren’t in favor of cutting CO2 emissions could be detonated with the push of a button? Yet somehow it’s Volkswagen that we’re supposed to believe would be behind the construction of a Death Star? Call me skeptical.

Jedi (or undercover Sith Lords) who continue to poke around the Greenpeace website are then treated to Volkswagen’s not-so-secret Secret Plans:

If Volkswagen made the most fuel-efficient cars it produces as standard, rather than offering efficiency technology as an expensive add-on, it would be able to reduce its feet emissions and oil consumption dramatically. If it rolled out its best technology across the fleet it would be transformational, not just to its own performance but to the European vehicle fleet as a whole.

It’s good to know that liberal environmentalists who don’t have eyes on Volkswagen’s internals know how to run a car company better than a men who have made cars their life’s work. Just as liberals call for minimum wage hikes (as if prices are arbitrarily decided upon numbers and sold to us with a Jedi mind trick), Greenpeace believes Volkswagen can snap its fingers and roll out “its best technology across the fleet.”

Perhaps a better analogy would lie with Star Trek: The Next Generation. Liberals believe we live in a “Make it so” world. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. When it comes to public policy vision, they’re as blind as Han Solo coming out of Carbonite hibernation.