Print January 27, 2017 5 comments
Counter-Currents Radio Podcast No. 168
Greg Johnson & John Morgan on a Sci-Fi Trifecta:
Arrival, Passengers, & Rogue One
To listen in a player, click here.
To download the mp3, right-click here and choose “save target or link as.”
To subscribe to our podcasts, click here for iTunes and here for RSS.
Greg Johnson and John Morgan inaugurate a series of movie podcasts by discussing three recent science fiction movies: the thoughtful and suspenseful Arrival, plus Passengers (reviewed here), and Rogue One (reviewed here).
Passengers was a masterpiece. Rogue One was a great mil-SF tale, serving as the candy coating for the usual pozz pill. Arrival was a confused mess.
On the advice of Trevor Lynch’s review I went to see Rogue One…
There’s a scene near the start where a leviathan statue of a fallen Jedi looms over some planetary wasteland. It evokes the kind of imagery you would find on the covers of paperback editions of Frank Herbert’s Dune novels.
Rogue One appears to be set more in the universe of Dune, Aliens and even Blade Runner as opposed to the mostly bright and cheery galaxy we have seen so far in Star Wars. It’s the dark underside of labor camps, back alley backstabbing and spice addicted might-have-been heroes without the glam of Jedi daring-do. There’s no speechifying about using the Force for knowledge and defense; here the protagonists are very real humans with many crimes on their hands. (And was that Tyler Durden I saw in a basement bar in Jedha?) You get an insight into what life is like for the average denizens of this long-ago-far-away galaxy, the people who can not rely on midichlorians or Jedi mind tricks – solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.
Yes, the Imperial officers look like the General Staff at Trump Tower. As has been noted, since 1945 it must be the movie Bad Guys who speak the eternal verities. The Death Star laser is the ultimate Flash in the Pan. Seeing Peter Cushing resurrected as master Imperial technocrat Grand Moff Tarkin was worth quite a few credits. At the end of this movie he is triumphant and the Empire reigns supreme with its cathedrals of technology. Still, there could have been development of the relationship between Tarkin and Vader such that the former could call the latter “my friend.”
On the Rebel side, the leadership is mostly White: Mon Motha, General Dodonna, Bail Organa. There was no retconning of Red and Gold Leaders to provide a “diverse” cast. Yes, there are some people-of-color among the Rebels, but these are obvious tokens or CGI aliens. The scene where the Rebel supreme council panics upon news of the Imperial offensive was reminiscent of the Pirate Kings conclave in At World’s End (same studio, after all). Jyn Erso was a fine Aryan female, pushing through on the mission without any magic powers bestowed by the Force. Nor did she waste screen time engaging in yet another dragged out light sabre duel.
If the movie lacked anything, it was in the flaw of the entire series. We never are quite told the ultimate motivation of either side. What is the true nature of the Empire’s rule? Against what are the Rebels rebelling? There’s a sense of a meta-story somewhere beyond the event horizon, a Golden Path which ought to be the payoff for all the space battles.
Watching the original Star Wars movie after Rogue One (via the “force” of a DVD player) you get a sense of the callousness of the Jedi who do not recognize the struggles of their own “grunts.” In the earlier films, the Rebel rank and file end up in unmarked graves on ice planets or vaporized with their starfighters on the superstructures of Imperial warships.
So <Rogue One is about the people who would otherwise be collateral damage but actually set the stage for final victory. And yes, in the final embrace of its two Rebel leads there is a real sense of tragedy in the classical sense. Perhaps even against the intentions of its makers there is a film worth watching.
I don’t think that the rss link is working. I would love to subscribe to the feed if it can be fixed.
Yeah, arrivals was a mess.as if the super advanced aliens would not have intercepted our TV transmissions and learn your language that way.
The medichlorians, as much as they kill the Force myth I agree,seem to represent part of a right ward shift and Lucas’s thinking or as he reveals it. Take the racial symbolism in some of the alien such as the gungans. They seem to represent a fusion of blacks and Hispanics, are represented as incompetent, good dancers and say muy for very. Lucas is making an argument of genetic determinism. The force is something you’re born with, basic biology like intelligence.
The Asian looking Ming the mad aliens are like East Asians and we know who wattoo represent(like the Jawa before him[make a substitution of letters]).
Of course I’m not saying I agree with this horrid symbolism, but there was a lot of criticism when the movie was released, for people old enough to recall.
Did anyone notice the Shining-like bartender in Passengers?
Comments are closed.
If you have Paywall access,
simply login first to see your comment auto-approved.
Note on comments privacy & moderation
Your email is never published nor shared.
Comments are moderated. If you don't see your comment, please be patient. If approved, it will appear here soon. Do not post your comment a second time.