A Good Friday, indeed!

Hey everybody,
I always like to have a bit of a Star Wars fest around Easter time, and this year is no different. I’ve been watching the movies in chronological order for the last few weeks, and last weekend it was the turn of Rogue One. I’ve seen a lot of stuff out on social media recently that calls it the most underrated Star Wars movie, and while I tend to think that belongs more to Solo, nevertheless I think these anthology movies do tend to lie forgotten while the main saga movies get all the attention. I do wonder if we might be in for more soon – I’m sure I’ve heard that Disney are going to be making an announcement soon about future movies? I hope so, at any rate!

At any rate, I do like Rogue One. While Solo will forever astound me for the fact that it shows us Corellia and Kessel, planets that loom so large from the EU lore it’s ridiculous, I think Rogue One succeeds brilliantly in providing a direct prequel to A New Hope, the uncanny valley CGI notwithstanding. Seeing a planet like Jedha just blows my mind as to the possibilities for more of that kind of fall out from the Jedi Purge, and I hope we do see some similar stuff in the Kenobi and Ahsoka shows, which might afford a glimpse into the religious underground, almost.

Rogue One Jedha

The movie definitely has that retro look down, and fits perfectly into the feel of A New Hope with the clunky tech, and even the hairstyles of some of the actors. While the story does at times have that feel of a video game or RPG adventure, as the heroes go from place to place in their search for the next clue, I like the fact that it follows that structure, somehow, seeing as how the story of the Death Star plans was originally told through those sorts of media.

Scarif Rogue One Star Wars

Of course, we also have the Andor show to look forward to, which will hopefully give us yet more of the gritty reality of the Rebellion. I loved the idea that we get a side of the Rebels that the movies never really shows – the grim and dirty stuff that these people do just to survive. The Empire is, after all, a totalitarian dictatorship, and it stands to reason there would be some pretty horrible stuff being done on both sides of the war. It’ll be interesting to see how far the TV show takes that narrative, though with Forrest Whitaker back as Saw Gerrera as well, I imagine we’ll get some fairly grim war story type of stuff coming our way.

As is my tradition this time of year, I’ve also been taking a look at some of the old West End Games roleplaying game books that I have. I love these things, and I think I pretty much have the full set (might be one or two still to find) It always feels like coming back to my Star Wars roots, somehow, when I crack open one of these with their breadth of creativity and those black and white drawings.

Hideouts and Strongholds is the sort of resource book that WEG churned out throughout their tenure with the Star Wars licence, where they produced plenty of things that you could copy and paste into an adventure or campaign with little to no difficulty. As perhaps you might expect, it’s full to the brim with story hooks and stats for a huge variety of locations, which might serve as a base of operations or a bolt hole for a particular group, either your own adventuring group or for the enemy, and you have to go in there and crack it open like an egg. A huge variety of stuff is on display, from rebel outposts to Imperial installations, crashed starships to glacier fortresses. There’s an extensive rundown of starports, and we even get such tidbits that tell us how precisely moisture vaporators work. It really is a treasure trove, every type of base has a map that describes the layout and features shown, and any defensive weaponry has stats for use in the game. Given that the overall idea of the book is to provide you with ideas and so on, it’s one of those that would very easily translate from game system to game system, especially if the system you’re using already has stats for, say, an anti-infantry laser battery.

No Disintegrations is an adventure sourcebook for bounty hunters, a class of character that was well-supported during the WEG line (they even had their own Galaxy Guide). There are five full adventures to play through with bounty hunter groups, which come complete with a whole host of twists and turns to be thrown at the players. The adventures range from recovering artefacts, tracking gamblers, to evading the bounty posted on themselves. I always like to see how these books incorporate the larger (legends) universe, and the adventures take us to Abegado-rae to The Wheel, as well as a host of other planets, some of which were created for this book. It goes to show how big a role the WEG stuff played in those early years of Star Wars development.

Both of these books were quite late additions to the line, of course (I have a feeling that Hideouts and Strongholds was one of the last to be published), so had a lot to fall back on by this point. Even when they were coming to the end of the licence, it’s great to see this kind of detail still being produced, and it’s the sort of thing that makes me a bit sad that I never got round to playing this back in the day!

Rogue One: Catalyst

Rogue One: Catalyst

Rogue One: Catalyst is, as the name might suggest, a tie-in novel to the standalone Star Wars movie, Rogue One. Written by James Luceno, I had high hopes for this novel, which were sadly not borne out by the end. Let me explain…

The story is basically that of Orson Krennic’s ambition to oversee the Death Star project, and details his machinations as he climbs the corporate ladder. Along the way, he makes use of a variety of people, notably Galen Erso, a former school friend (unlikely though that may seem), to advance his career. Galen is portrayed as that typical scientist-type who is so wrapped-up in his own work, he’s barely aware of his surroundings, including his own family. Which I thought was weird, based on his portrayal in the movie…

The novel begins while the Clone Wars are still in full-flow, though Galen is notably undertaking research far from the front line, attempting to synthesize kyber crystals to create a renewable energy source. He is soon wrapped up in the fight between the Republic and the Separatists, however, and it is Krennic who comes to his rescue. Over time, Krennic manages to seduce him into working indirectly on the Death Star project, as Galen researches the energy output of the crystals that is then weaponised by a separate team of scientists.

During this time, we do get to see the fascinating upheaval from Republic to Empire, which is something that I enjoyed. It’s interesting how quickly people seem to forget the Jedi – I’d always liked the alternative idea that is often hinted at within the Dark Times comics, that the idea of the Jedi carried with it such inherent danger that people chose not to involve themselves. Anyway!

Another strand to Krennic’s ambition is his use of the smuggler, Has Obit. Has is used to basically deposit weapons on the so-called Legacy Worlds – worlds that are the Star Wars equivalents of National Parks. With this, Krennic is able to claim the worlds were arming themselves against the Empire, and so their Legacy status is stripped from them – and the strip-mining of all natural resources can begin. Over time, Has sees what he is doing and, thanks to Galen’s wife Lyra, turns against Krennic and helps the Ersos escape Coruscant for good.

There’s more to it than that, of course, but the basic gist of the story is here. So what’s so bad about it? Well, first of all, Galen Erso has got to be one of the most infuriating characters ever to grace the pages of a Star Wars novel. He just annoyed me so much, I found myself wishing his bits were over so that we could get back to Krennic, who is actually quite interesting, for all his naked ambition.

While the book is a really nice marriage of the Prequel era and the Original Trilogy era, these ties are somehow relegated to the background in comparison with other Luceno novels. There was a nice sequence with Krennic and Poggle the Lesser, as he tries to get the Geonosians to construct the focusing dish for the battle station. Also, Krennic’s patron throughout the book is Mas Amedda, who comes across as slightly more competent in this book than, say, his Aftermath appearances. Tarkin also has a significant role, though he serves more as an obstacle to Krennic than anything – he doesn’t quite come across the same as he does in, say, Luceno’s Tarkin.

Which is a bit weird, as they’re by the same author, but I think herein lies the main gripe I have with the book: it feels a bit rushed. I can’t quite decide if I mean it feels like it was pushed out to meet a deadline, but the action sometimes feels entirely too glossed-over. True, a battle station the size of the Death Star is going to take years to build, which could be tedious if we had to have all of that detailed to us, but there were several instances where I felt we could have done with more detail. Whether all new canon novels need to conform to a certain page length, who knows, but I definitely felt like we could have benefited from a bit more.

So, while I did feel a bit let-down overall, there were still some good bits to be enjoyed. Mentions of the Corporate Sector and COMPNOR were particularly nice, as it’s always fun to see the old canon being referenced. And the way the novel straddles the Prequel and OT eras was nicely done, too. While the Jedi stuff could have done with more time spent on exploring how they just dropped out of the galactic consciousness, I guess this book isn’t trying to tell that particular tale.

I don’t think it really adds anything to Rogue One, save perhaps explaining Saw Gerrera’s relationship to the Ersos (which itself seemed a bit forced). Which brings me on to my final point – why can’t we have Star Wars novels for their own sake anymore? It feels like everything that has come out so far has been trying to tie into something, either a new movie or an appearance by a beloved character in a cartoon. Why can’t we just have a book for its own sake? Heir to the Jedi springs to mind as perhaps the only one, so far, and that was originally planned as the third in a loose trilogy prior to the abolition of the old EU. I’d love to have something that tells its own story, that can run to 500 pages or more, and just brings back some of the old Bantam magic. We still don’t really have that feel right now, I think, where the galaxy feels like a cohesive whole. Where’s the new canon’s Mara Jade, or Talon Karrde? The novels feel like they exist in some kind of weird vacuum, and I’m really not sure that I like it. Sure, plenty of them are good, but they’re good by themselves, with no real reference to the wider galaxy. The hipster in me is thinking, this is what happens when a franchise hits the big time, and everything has to have a mass-appeal. Whereas previously we could have novels that reference comic books, which reference other comic books, which reference other novels, which reference RPG material. There was an expectation that people reading these things would be immersed to the next level at least. Now everything seems to need only the films – the widest audience for this material – to rely upon. It’s just feeling kinda fractured, and I’m not sure how much longer I can keep myself interested in this way of doing Star Wars.

Anyway, I don’t mean to be quite so down on the book, or the franchise as a whole, but sometimes I do wonder what’s happening to the GFFA…

Rogue One, again

Hey everybody!
At the weekend, I finally sat down to give Rogue One a second viewing, having bought the DVD weeks ago but not really being in the mood for it up to now. Well, I have to say, I enjoyed it just as much this time around as I did back in December!

Rogue One

The film actually feels like an expanded universe story, which I thought was a bit weird at first. When Lucas was at the helm of the franchise, he was always very careful with setting and location – I recall an article somewhere back when Attack of the Clones was shooting where this deliberate choice of worlds was discussed, though it’s really quite obvious across all six of his films. In Rogue One, however, we jump around from planet to planet with not so much a careless abandon, but certainly more an eye towards opening up the universe. While Geonosis and Tatooine are both desert worlds, they feel distinctly different because they’re meant to; Jedha (and Jakku, come to think of it) could basically be Tatooine by another name. This is something that the expanded universe did a lot, providing “just another x planet” and the like. I’m not laying this down as a criticism, of course, but more an observation. I love a lot of the old EU after all!

While Scarif was a very interesting location to me, and I wouldn’t be averse to seeing more of it – both before and after the battle there – I think Jedha is by far the more interesting of all the locations we’ve seen so far. I’ve talked about how I feel Disney may be on the verge of declaring the Prequels non-canon before, but I do get a sense that, to show more of Jedha, we’d need to tread on some fairly rocky ground. The location of a Jedi temple there seems to run counter to what we know of the Order from the Prequels – indeed, the fact that there is a buried-treasure-trail of such temples as per The Force Awakens also reinforces this point. But I find it incredibly interesting that such a thing could be, and really want to know more of what was actually involved there. Was it more of a Jedi outpost? Was the Church of the Force a Thing during the Prequel era? Jedi seemed to be nothing more than an elite police force back then, so what would prompt people to worship them, and what was the attitude of Mace Windu et al to this veneration? Or does the Church of the Force not so much worship the Jedi themselves as the idea of the Force, in which case what did they think of the Jedi as people? I so desperately want to know more about this stuff, so I really hope we get these answers!

There is what I think a young adult novel coming out in the next couple of weeks, Guardians of the Whills, which features Chirrut and Baze between their time as Guardians and the arrival of Jyn and Cassian, so hopefully we’ll get some more information from that!

Speaking of Cassian Andor, I mentioned this back in December, but I’m even more curious as to this guy’s back story now. He’s apparently the head of Alliance Intelligence, though having watched the film again, I got the impression he was more a sort of go-to guy to get the Alliance’s dirty work done. This seems to be the feeling from his orders from General Draven, and I quite like the idea that he is more of a mercenary sort. I believe he’s in the other upcoming YA novel, Rebel Rising, which I also have on preorder, so it’ll be interesting to learn more about this guy.

Rogue One

Despite the fact we’re no doubt likely to be inundated with the stuff, I think of all the characters I’m not particularly interested in, Jyn Erso is top of that list. This isn’t meant as a slight on the character, but rather just because I think we learn all that we need to about her from the film, and her story is pretty self-contained there. Of course, I’m braced for plenty of tie-ins to her time with Saw Gerrera, but hopefully they won’t neglect the other stories that could be told around these chaps…


This is already turning into a rambling blog (my specialty), so I’ll wrap it up here. Suffice it to say, I thought the film was just as good the second time around, and even though parts of it were a bit too on-the-nose, I found myself just wrapped up in the magic of it all and enjoying the ride! Interestingly, the CGI Tarkin didn’t seem to be as good this time around, while the CGI Leia looked a lot better on the smaller screen.

I actually started to watch A New Hope immediately after, but actually didn’t see the point after the droids launched in the escape pod. I thought it was interesting because so many people talked about watching them back-to-back in this manner when it was released, as if one would greatly enhance the other, but I actually found that Rogue One, while leading immediately into A New Hope, is self-contained enough that it doesn’t actually demand such a marathon. While this is probably due to the fact that I know A New Hope like the back of my hand, and can thus fill in the entire film from memory, I thought it worth pointing out that, in my view, nothing is gained from watching them both like that.

Anyway! Great film, definitely worth its place in the series.

Everything wrong with Rogue One?

So, movieweb has published an article listing 13 problems with Rogue One, and I thought it was interesting enough to want to write a blog here with some of my own thoughts on these problems. Because I’m still pretty pumped for this movie, and I’m interested in what’s being written about it!

Spoilers abound, once again!

1. Darth Vader
I have to say, I hadn’t really thought a lot about this one. My biggest problem with Vader in this movie was the costume, which somehow didn’t seem right. I actually really liked that scene at the end with him swinging his lightsaber into all and sundry, it was pretty great. But like the article says, it does make the Vader of A New Hope seem a bit diminished by comparison. The depleted battery theory is pretty good to explain this, but it harkens back to what I said after watching the first trailer, and how I feel seeing new stuff from this period of the timeline will make the original trilogy seem pretty dated. So in short, I agree.

2. CGI resurrections
I didn’t honestly think this was as badly done as the article describes. Sure, as I said in my review blog from yesterday, the scenes with Tarkin distracted me because I was trying to work out how they’d done it, but overall I liked seeing this, and thought it worked really well. To have a film about the Death Star without Tarkin would have been more jarring, to me, so I appreciated the efforts to stay within the lore, anyway. Seeing Leia at the end was a shock, and I’m not even sure it was a good shock, but I don’t think it was that much of a deal overall.

3. Title cards to introduce planets
I actually really liked this one. These anthology movies are trying to break the mould for what a Star Wars movie has to be, and the lack of an opening crawl/rebels’ fanfare – heck, the title card of the movie just says ‘Rogue One’, it doesn’t even have Star Wars on the screen. This really does feel visually different, and I like it. Having the planets introduced in this way was something that made me pay attention, but it also made me feel like I was watching a different kind of movie set in the familiar universe, and I really liked that feeling. Overall, I don’t see anything wrong with this!

4. Ponda Baba and Dr Evazan cameo
Sure, this bugged me a lot. I just didn’t see the point of it, beyond the obvious fan service. It had no other purpose, and is the sort of thing that bugs the hell out of me in movies like this. The issues with them getting from Jedha to Mos Eisley in a matter of days is the least of my concerns here, they just shouldn’t have been put in the movie in the first place.

5. C-3PO and R2-D2 cameo
Yep, another unnecessary line or two of dialogue, just to place the droids in every single movie. Up to that point of the film, I was finding it a little funny that this would be one Star Wars movie that wouldn’t give Anthony Daniels a paycheck, but clearly no! It again has no purpose to the plot, other than a gratuitous cameo, but I suppose it was at least more permissible than Dr Evazan and Ponda Baba…

6. Cassian’s return from the grave
I did think this was a bit convenient, though I wasn’t entirely convinced that his fall would be the demise of his character, which seemed far too ignominious and lacking in presence for one of the main people of the movie. So when he showed up, it was more in the sense of “obviously he’s there” than “wha?”

7. Jyn vs the TIE fighter
I wasn’t one of those people who had memorised every scene from every trailer, though I was a bit surprised when some scenes I’d remembered weren’t included in the movie. We get Chirrut shooting a TIE fighter out of the sky, though, so we don’t need anything more…

8. Darth Vader cut scenes
As above, I wasn’t expecting them, and the lack of their inclusion didn’t ruin the experience for me. As it was, Vader was in danger of being over-used anyway, so I’m fine with missing some of these things (though will, of course, lap up any and all deleted scenes I can get, because obviously!)

9. The gang came together a bit too quickly
While I was a bit surprised at how easily Chirrut and Baze grafted themselves onto the rebellion, overall I didn’t have a problem with the formation of the team. The far larger problem, for me, was how Jyn suddenly becomes an inspirational leader-type during the “senate” scene and subsequently on the mission, while we’re told Cassian is head of intelligence and so would more likely fill that role more naturally. Maybe it was a part of her character that she had kept hidden up to that point, and it was finally allowed to come forth, but she does go rather too quickly from the sullen loner type to a Princess Leia surrogate. Hm.

10. Where are Porkins and Biggs
Yep, I was waiting for Biggs as well. Porkins didn’t really cross my mind, but at any rate, we get quite a bit of spliced-in footage from A New Hope, so why couldn’t they splice some more in, if they were doing that anyway? I suppose Biggs would have been down on Tatooine with Luke in that deleted scene round about the time of this movie, but even so…

11. The Kyber Crystals
This plotline was a bit weird to me, and I felt it was a little like the stuff with “the Force of Others” and “the Temple of the Whills” that I mentioned in my review blog, there for the fans of the lore familiar with the genesis of A New Hope, back when it was the Adventures of the Starkiller and so on. It seemed like something that was floating around in the background, and I was surprised that nothing ever came of Jyn’s necklace. In fact, I was surprised we didn’t learn anything about her mother, who is perhaps also one of these Church of the Force types. Or maybe even a Jedi in hiding? Maybe that’s something to be discussed in a future comic or novel? Hm.

12. Back to the Future?
Sure, now they mention it, this moment does have that feeling. But it isn’t something I’d thought about during the movie. In fact, I was pretty convinced Bodhi Rook was going to prove he wasn’t, in fact, a defector, and was going to sell the rebels out after all. I was genuinely surprised that he turned out to be a good guy!

13. Saw Gerrera’s eyes have changed colour
Okay… I call myself a huge Star Wars fan, and I think I know quite a great deal about the lore, but seriously? For an article that is titled “13 Big Problems with Rogue One“, this makes the list? I’m not quite sure what to say…

Anyway! This surely won’t be the last post about the new Star Wars movie on this blog – I’m hoping to go see it again, and have the novelization on pre-order, at the very least… Have you seen it yet? Let me know what you think in the comments!

Rogue One (spoilers within!)

Well, wow!

I’ve literally just gotten back from the cinema, having been to the 10:15 showing of the new Star Wars movie, and I have to say, that was one hell of a film right there!

Rogue One tells the story of how the Rebel Alliance got those Death Star plans that we see Princess Leia racing across the galaxy with at the start of A New Hope, and it’s a story that has really been done to death back before the days of the story group. I am going to talk about some of the story of the movie, so please don’t read on if you’ve not yet seen it and want a surprise! Just know that the movie is really great!

Rogue One Star Wars

We follow the daughter of Imperial weapons scientist Galen Erso, Jyn, as she helps the rebels make contact with the extremist Saw Gerrera, who has received a message from Galen telling them of a flaw in the Death Star’s design. Jyn hears the message, and determines they must recover the plans from the Imperial databanks on Scarif. Jyn brings this message to the Alliance, who initially refuse to assist, so Jyn leads a small band to the planet with the intention of getting them, herself. In a desperate final battle, the rebels succeed in beaming the plans to the Alliance fleet, and while Vader arrives to stop them, one blockade runner manages to escape…

The film is just amazing. This is the first of the new breed of Star Wars ‘anthology’ films, which will deal with stories outside of the central saga of the Skywalker family, and focuses on a cast that is pretty much entirely new to the lore. Having grown up with stories like the Jedi Academy trilogy, which tells of the scientist Bevel Lemelisk and his team of weapons experts who developed the Death Star, I must admit I was a bit hesitant to like this film, as it was stripping away so much of what I had come to think of as the Star Wars storyline. But, much like stories like Bloodline, I think this film succeeds in providing a more cohesive, and just plain better, story for this aspect of the lore.

(I’m going to be doing a blog about the now-Legends story of the Death Star plans in the coming days, so stay tuned for that!)

Rogue One Star Wars

Jyn Erso is a fairly compelling character, though at times I thought the role was a bit of a cypher, and merely existed to tell the story around her. There is definitely something there, however, and either a second viewing or something like the novelization will perhaps change my opinion. The head of Rebel intelligence, Cassian Andor, was much more interesting, and I would definitely like to see more of his involvement in the nascent Rebellion. Hopefully this is something dealt with in the novel Catalyst, which I plan to read soon!

The more peripheral rebels we get in the group, Chirrut Îmwe and Baze Malbus, were much more interesting to me, former guardians of the Jedi temple on Jedha that is being stripped of its kyber crystals, the fuel required for the Death Star superlaser. I have to say, the addition of kyber crystals, as well as mention of the Temple of the Whills, were a nice addition for fans of the lore of the original movie, but felt a bit like they were only included to make us fans of said lore “oooh” at the words. Similarly, how Chirrut initially says “May the Force of Others be with you”, which was the original greeting/blessing/whatever. But these are minor gripes.

The main thing here is that the new movies are restoring the spirituality of the Force to the mythos, rather than going with the scientific explanation given in the prequels, and I have to say that I absolutely love it. I actually expect Disney to come out with the message that episodes I-III aren’t actually canon at some point, as I find it very suspicious that they’re focusing all of their attentions on the period of the original trilogy and afterwards, and now working to unravel things like midichlorians. It’ll be interesting to see, anyway.

Jedha Rogue One Star Wars

The locations of this movie are worth mentioning at this point. We get a handful of new planets, centring on the spiritual planet of Jedha, and the Scarif base at the end. I really love the locations of these movies, and I was not disappointed! Jedha (above) is a desert world with a Mos Eisley feeling to its main city. There is a religious centre kind of feel to the place, with huge broken statues out in the wastes, and what seem to be pilgrims wandering the streets. Of course, the place is under Imperial cordon, due to the kyber crystal thing, and is the base of Saw Gerrera and his attacks on the Imperials.

Scarif Rogue One Star Wars

Scarif is a more tropical kinda place, which perhaps looks too much like the islands of the Indian Ocean, but what the hell. It’s here that the Imperial records are kept, and where the Rebels infiltrate to steal the Death Star plans. AT-AT walkers on the beach, ahoy!

Speaking of Imperials, our main villain is Orson Krennic, the man in charge of the development of the superlaser technology, it seems. An ambitious Imperial, I found him to be fairly interesting, particularly his place in the command structure under Grand Moff Tarkin. I have to say, I had no idea that the movie was going to resurrect Peter Cushing for this, and the CGI was actually pretty amazingly done. Unfortunately, things like this do tend to drag me out of the story, as every scene he was in made me focus on how they did that – was it CGI? Was it just a very good double? It’s going to be worth watching again to actually pay attention to the scenes this time.

Rogue One Star Wars

We also get a bit of Vader in the movie, though again, I found myself focusing on the physical appearance of the character and not the story. The costume looked a bit strange to me, and whether Ben Mendelsohn is just very tall or not, he also seemed a bit short. But I’m being really pedantic here! I do find it interesting that we got a lot of resurrected characters on the Empire side, and yet Ian McDiarmid’s Emperor was left alone. Maybe it’s for the best that the Emperor remains a shadowy overlord? He did get quite a lot of exposure in the prequels…

Along with the return of Cushing and Vader, we get Bail Organa and Mon Mothma, reprised by Jimmy Smits and Genevieve O’Reilly respectively. While Mon Mothma has been in the trailers, I was excited to see Smits once again, as it lends a lot of nice continuity to the movies. I think there was a guy who was supposed to be General Dodonna, but can’t be sure of that… It was really nice to see more of Yavin IV, anyway, and I actually enjoyed seeing things that reminded me of A New Hope – though there are several shots of the rebel pilots from the Death Star trench run sequence repurposed for the attack on the Scarif shields, and that kinda jarred a little too much for me.

Overall, I really enjoyed this movie. It had a very gritty feel to it, and in fact felt incredibly grown-up for a Star Wars movie. The galactic scope of the film was really well-done, and the characters were interesting enough that they could sustain a movie that we all know the ending for. Perhaps even more so than The Force Awakens, I found myself enjoying this movie from the outset, and really want to learn more about things like Jedha and the Church of the Force.

Highly recommended!

Exciting times!

Hey everybody!
It feels like there is a lot of excitement in the air at the minute for anybody of a geeky disposition. We’re almost a month away from a new Star Wars movie, for starters, but the slide into December is always packed with so much awesome that I really should look to setting up a savings account specifically for the purpose…

I’ve been watching the second international trailer for Rogue One, which does subtly differ from the last official trailer released last month. It’s always cool to see new bits, and I’m certainly feeling pretty excited about this movie right now: I think, more than anything, it just looks fantastic. It has the Classic Trilogy sense of style but with today’s technology making more possible within that setting. Sure, I mentioned this in my musings on the first trailer, where I thought it would make the movie make the original films look shabby in comparison. However, I don’t think that will be the case any longer; maybe I’ve mellowed over the past few months!

While the story of the Death Star plans has been done to death in the old canon, I’m actually looking forward to this movie for giving us the definitive story around that. It’s a fascinating part of the Star Wars lore, and while some of the trailer seems to have some bits that look overly cheesy or cliche, I’m still looking forward to what promises to be an overall good film.

I’ve pre-ordered the lead-in novel, Catalyst, and I’m really looking forward to getting my hands on it as it’s by one of my favourite Star Wars authors, James Luceno. I’d been thinking I might keep the book to read closer to Christmas, but I might not be able to wait that long, so there may be a review coming in sooner than you think!

Speaking of trailers, I’m still super hyped for the upcoming Wonder Woman movie next year! I won’t deny, I was kinda speechless when it first dropped, as it looks like it should be everything we could ever want from such a movie. I still haven’t seen Batman vs Superman, so have nothing to really go on (though by all accounts, her role was somewhat limited in that movie). But these trailers look incredible, and I heartily cannot wait for it!

But let’s talk about some games for a minute.

I picked up the new Arkham Horror LCG the other day, and it does look kinda fantastic, I have to say. To date, all I’ve done is take the cards out of the airtight bags and quickly ruffle through them, but I’m hoping that, once I’m caught up with my degree, I’ll be able to try it out and see what all the fuss is about. I’ve been subscribed to the page on boardgamegeek since it had one, and have been astonished at the amount of new posts created for it, talking about the minutiae before it even landed. It was akin to the Rise of the Runelords Pathfinder ACG, and I’ve considered unsubscribing because of it! I’m sure it’ll die down in time, however.

Speaking of the Pathfinder ACG, the fourth box, The Mummy’s Mask, has apparently been released, though I have yet to see it for sale in the UK. Of course, I haven’t really been trying all that hard to find it, but even so! I’ve only recently made it to the end of the first adventure pack in the Rise of the Runelords game, of course, so I’m hardly chomping at the bit for the next box, but it does look amazing!

Android Netrunner Terminal Directive

Last night, FFG announced the next expansion for Android: Netrunner, Terminal Directive. The article doesn’t have a great deal of information for how exactly this expansion works, but it looks to be extremely similar to the Pandemic Legacy stuff that involves game components opened and used at specific points of the game/when specific conditions have been met. I’m not surprised that another company has used this idea, because it seems to be doing well for Z-Man Games, though I am surprised that it was used for a living card game rather than a boardgame.

The implementation aside, I think the idea of having a game of Netrunner where your actions have consequences for a campaign is really interesting, and I hope I can get in on this when it starts…

Along with the Arkham LCG, I also picked up the final packs for the latest Lord of the Rings cycle, as well as the final pack for Warhammer Conquest! I do feel kinda sad that the game is over now, but talking about it down at the local store, it sounds like the game isn’t quite dead yet, so I can still try out my Slaanesh demons deck now that we finally have a warlord for the Dark Prince!

I still haven’t played with any of the new Lord of the Rings cards, unfortunately – it doesn’t seem so long ago that I would eagerly be playing through the latest pack no sooner had I gotten my grubby little mits on it! I’ve mentioned it on this blog fairly recently how I want to get back into playing this game with more regularity, so I hope that I can make that a thing soon! All of my free time at the moment seems to be taken up with either working on my degree or painting up little plastic guys… I do feel like I need to get back into gaming though, that’s definitely been sliding of late…

New Rogue One trailer!

I’m still trying to digest the awesome new Rogue One trailer that came out yesterday – while I’ve been trying to avoid getting into the small details of any and all spoilers (I followed Attack of the Clones‘ development closely, and it didn’t end well), every so often I’ve been trying to keep up with the film news that’s out there, and I do feel a lot better predisposed towards it as a result!

I’m rambling already…

In my blog from April about the first trailer, I was feeling a bit dejected about the way in which the new canon was rehashing old ground, and I think that was pretty symptomatic of my thoughts on Star Wars in general at that time. However, over the course of the summer, I have become such a convert to the new canon, not least in part thanks to the awesome Star Wars New Canon Book Club (which you should totally check out if you aren’t listening already).

Recovering the Death Star plans has been gone over so often in previous books and comics and video games, I was feeling a bit jaded by it all. But the fact that we’re getting a film about it – which is kinda telling us the ‘official’ story or whatever – is really exciting to me! I think the characters look great, even if some of them might be a bit too caricature-like (but I guess that’s what Star Wars has always had…) The locations also look really cool – something that is always important to me – and while I am still a bit concerned that the effects and whatnot will make the original trilogy look kinda crummy by comparison, I’m really trying to overlook that and just go with the idea of this being a really great film.

Rogue One

Something else that I’m kinda excited about is the possible links to the new sequel trilogy, such as Donnie Yen’s character Chirrut Îmwe being a regular guy who reveres the Force, rather than a Jedi per se. Links into this idea of a Church of the Force, which is something that adds a lot of the mysticism back into the universe after that nuts-and-bolts midichlorians business, and I hope becomes more of a thing for Star Wars as time goes on.

Rogue One

I’m also really intrigued by the Imperials in this film, mainly because I’m interested in how Director Krennic (above) features into the hierarchy of the project. I’m pretty sure Tarkin is overall responsible, and Krennic first came across as the type of character who was written in because no suitable Peter Cushing lookalike actor could be found, so I’m curious as to what we’ll be seeing in the upper echelons of Imperial society. I also hope we can perhaps see a lot of the other guys from the lore, such as Yularen or Evax, who could potentially be re-cast with no fuss whatsoever. Of course, these are now Legends, so I guess the film will be primarily concerned with new blood, but it’s exciting to think about!

You know what, I’d almost forgotten about Catalyst coming out next month! James Luceno is one of my absolute favourite authors, and his lead-in novels to both The Phantom Menace and Revenge of the Sith are absolute classics for me. I am absolutely going to pounce all over this novel in a month’s time, I cannot wait!

I am now totally on board for pretty much everything that is coming out for Star Wars – the classic canon that I grew up with will always be there for me, of course, but more than anything, I am totally enraptured by the feeling of new that pervades Star Wars, and that is something I never thought to experience again. Bravo, Disney, bravo!

Rogue One trailer

So this has hit today, and I’m once more feeling torn over the new direction of Star Wars films. The trailer alternately looks like it should be pretty great, but I also feel a little like we’re going over old ground once again.

While none of it is canon anymore of course, stealing the plans to the Death Star is still so vastly over-done as a story idea in the Star Wars universe, rather than being excited by it, I’m just yawning and feeling like we’ve been here before. So much. There were times when it was interesting, but whatever, we’ll get to see the “official” story now as a movie.

I’m somewhat saddened to see how new movies that use old stuff also manage to make that old stuff look kinda crappy. The AT-ATs we see look really cool, but that kinda makes me feel like the scene in Empire with those massive things trundling across the Hoth tundra are a bit meh by comparison. It’s something the prequel movies got horribly wrong, and I was hoping wouldn’t be an issue for any new movies, but Disney is obviously keen to milk the era of the Classic trilogy for as much as it’s worth, so I guess we aren’t over the hill yet.

Other than that, it looks like it could be really good. Although we don’t get as much of an ensemble feel from the trailer – seems like the focus is squarely on the character of Felicity Jones – I love the idea of an ensemble movie for Star Wars with a wider scope than just three main characters. Looks like it may even have something of a Suicide Squad feel to it, which I find funny given the timing and all.

Hopefully it’ll be really great, though I have to admit, I’m looking forward for the day when we might actually get an original new Star Wars movie…