May the Fourth Be With You: A Rogue One Review

Many moons ago, I promised you a review of Rogue One. Then a bunch of stuff happened, and when I got up today and realized it was #StarWarsDay, it seemed like a good time to finally put my review on paper.

Let me preface by saying that Rogue One may be my very favorite Star Wars film. I loved story line, the character Jyn Erso and the [spoiler alert] doomed mission. I mean, come on, none of these characters made it to the next (first) film, so obviously (or 2/3 through the movie, if you’re me) you figure things are going to end tragically.

MayThe4thBeWithYou

Image Credit: StarWars.com

Of course I’m a sucker for a strong warrior heroine type, and Jyn’s passion for avenging her parents offered me satisfying character motivation. Her recognition of the file name being her nickname, her belief that her father wasn’t a traitor, the too-obvious dying breath reunion…all of this was sentimental tripe that I totally ate up.

But the movie passes the Bechdel Test, in which two named women talk to each other about something other than a man, and Jyn kicked plenty of Imperial butts without being belittled or overshadowed by other characters.

Let’s not forget dreamy Captain Cassian Andor with his much-lauded casting, given that his accent had nothing to do with his character and everything to do with making a lot of people flock to see a film in which a character looked AND sounded like them (bravo, Disney). Of course he doubted Jyn, didn’t trust her, planned to sabotage her mission, and unwittingly fell for her before dying with her in a spectacular nuclear blast. #romance

The best aspect of their relationship: romance was never a focal point in the movie. Jyn had a mission, she inspired what became the Rogue One crew, and Cassian had a mission, and he led the Rogue One crew. But the way they trusted each other by the end…absolute perfection.

It’s on the topic of casting that I think Disney made an incredible political statement:

  •        Jyn (a woman) and a band of various minorities (including two badass martial artists, a defector appearing to be of Middle Eastern descent, a weary part-cyborg, a rebel AI, and a strongly accented Hispanic-but-not-really-cause-it’s-a-long-time-ago-in-a-galaxy-far-far-away) are all fighting a bunch of old white dudes for power. No, seriously. All the good guys with significant screen time were minorities. Well-played, Disney.
  •        And they succeed, except they all get wiped out in the process. Let’s not read too much into this one.
  •        There are bombs going off and dead people being brought to life (albeit on film) to make their wishes known. Voter fraud, anyone?
  •        There’s espionage and sabotage of government documents and plans. Like, say, WikiLeaks, or, um, a particular email scandal.
  •        There’s a rebellion. Led by a woman who gets herself on a plane. That’s not reminiscent of any election I can think of… (cough…sarcasm…cough) But let’s not forget Princess Leia, either, also a leader of the Rebel forces. #RIPCarrieFisher

Another aspect of Rogue One that I liked was the intricacy of the plot—if you stopped paying attention for even the briefest moment, you probably missed something critical.

I liken this to a good novel—if you see something mentioned more than once, it’s probably important. And it’s probably why reading mysteries is no longer the challenge it could be. #writerproblems

The idea of a reprogrammed droid, an Imperial droid, becoming a staunch Rebel, secondary to Bodhi Rook’s defection from the Empire, also scored high on my interest level. People can change their minds, they can do the right thing, and they can sacrifice everything for a cause they come to believe in.

Without Bodhi Rook, there would have been no story—Jyn wouldn’t have been compelled to prove her dad wasn’t a traitor, the Rebels would have known little to nothing about the Death Star, and we would have the Empire crushing all their enemies forever until they proceeded to take over Earth.

And a little faith and a lot of belief can help even non-believers come to the fold. We’ve seen both good and bad examples of that in recent and not-so-recent history. Bodhi’s fear and courage critically impacted the plot of this story.

Finally, I wanted to appreciate the realness of each of the characters. We weren’t just fascinated by Jyn and Cassian and a random droid. All the rest of Rogue One’s crew was there for a reason, had their own dreams and fears, and fought a special battle of their own. They were each heroes of their own stories, not stagnant caricatures filling space in a plot.

May the Fourth be with you. If you’ll excuse me, I have to put on my Star Wars shirt and flip on the movies now.

NOTE: Star Wars is owned by Disney since they acquired Lucasfilm (duh). I borrowed this image from starwars.com. It’s not mine, nor are any of the characters from the Star Wars franchise mentioned in this blog post. I’m not trying to break their copyright/trademark/ownership, etc. in any way, nor do my views stated in any way reflect the views of Disney. Please don’t sue me. I’m just a big fan writing about a movie I really loved.

Death, Euphemisms, and Bad Words

Today’s Word Wednesday is a departure from our regularly scheduled programming. I’ve been ruminating on what certain words mean to me, so we’ll have at it.

January took a sorrowful turn when my father lost his battle with cancer. I have not spoken of his health on the blog before, except in the loosest of references. Honestly, it has been too painful, knowing as we did that his diagnosis was terminal.

And in speaking of it now, it’s difficult to say–much less write–the words “my father died.” We have so many euphemisms for describing the end of life.

Words We Use to Describe Death

One friend recently called it “transitioning,” which was a new term for me, but which makes me think of a new job (or of Caitlyn Jenner).

An aunt has always referred to her deceased as “expired.” But when I think of expired milk, if it’s not gone a little sour, maybe I could still use it up. And my husband and I joke, as stinky people do, when our deodorant has quit for the day, that we’ve “expired” in the sense that we now smell a bit sour ourselves.

Technically, “expire” also refers to an exhalation from the lungs, so using expire to describe the exhalation of the spirit from the body and the fact that an inhalation is not sure to follow may be appropriate after all. It was, ultimately, respiratory failure for my father: an expiration his last mortal act.

Then there is “lost,” as in “I lost my father.”

I didn’t lose him in the sense that I don’t know where he is. I know exactly where he is, saw for myself the funeral home, the cremation oven, the ashes, and the flowing water where we poured them.

Because despite the many definitions of “lost,” the first one that registers for me is always being unable to find one’s way.

Sure, there are other definitions: something irrecoverable, as he is now, or in which a defeat has been sustained, as he did with cancer.

And now, more than usual, I find myself struggling to find my own way, not fully knowing where I am as tears threaten the surface at the slightest provocation and at the most inopportune and unexpected of moments.

So “lost” doesn’t seem appropriate to describe my father so much as it describes me.

The word “loss,” however, carries with it the sense of something now absent and greatly missed despite its rather redundant and unhelpful definition. Yet “I experienced the loss of my father” is rather a mouthful though it is quite accurate.

Moving Forward

And as for my resolutions for 2017, the verb for “resolution” is “resolve.” I resolved to do certain things in 2017. We make resolutions usually with an aim toward achievement or self-betterment. At this particular time, self-betterment dictates that I treat myself kindly. The time for aggressive writing achievement is not now.

Writing has always provided a solace for me, and making it a burdensome chore or stressor at a time when I need comfort more than ever will backfire. I do not ever want to publish a work that I’m not proud to sign my name to, so if that means my writing needs to take a backseat to my emotional health, so be it. I am still writing, and I am still going to meet my goals.

Final Thoughts

Many people think of four-letter words as the worst ones they know. Well, the vilest word I know is “cancer.” It’s an evil disease. I’ve watched it destroy a strong man and take a  terrible toll on his caregivers, primarily my mother.

Toward the end, certainly, and even before that, what cancer did to my father was no way for a person to live. It was no way for my mother to live either, constantly in fear and worry about what the next hour might bring. His suffering is at an end, but the rest of us still have to come to terms.

Please, please schedule your preventive care visits for 2017 now, when you have time for the things that get in the way, to reschedule them so that you fit them in this year. Prevention, especially with cancer, is so much more reliable than the cure.

Short but frequent doctor’s visits can allow you to avoid the nightmare of chemotherapy, the pain of physical therapy, and the horror that is cancer.

In memory of my father, I beg of you to do it for yourself.