Sunday, December 22, 2019

Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker - Spoiler ridden highly subjective opinion

We went to see Star Wars - The Rise of Skywalker on Friday after work. I was mad and angry that I didn't manage to get the tickets for the midnight screening. It sold out that fast. Instead, I had to wait for 21 hours, until 9 p.m., to see the final installment of the Skywalker story.

By then I had read every spoiler, review and plot summary out there. And I am glad I did. I was well prepared for the inevitable disaster.

So, let's start backwards.

Did I enjoy the movie? Yes, I did. It was fun. It was entertaining. It was Disney at its best. Shallow, superficial and immediately forgettable.

Was it a good movie? Hmmm... Yes, it was. Perhaps not exactly good, but good enough. It was mindless holiday entertainment. Something you'd see to escape from pre- or post-Christmas shopping while you're already at the mall.

Was it a good Star Wars movie? Hmmm... No, it wasn't. Perhaps not exactly bad (it had its moments), but bad enough. It was mindless holiday entertainment. Something you'd see to escape from... Oh, wait! See the problem now?

So, what did we get in The Rise of Skywalker? We got Reylo (kind of), and redeemed Ben, and Palpatine, and Han Solo, and the ghost of Luke, and badly edited footage of Leia, and also Lando, some rando new characters, a new droid, another desert planet, force-fighting and straight up force teleporting, Hux as a spy, and so much gratuitous fanservice that it would be easier to list what we didn't get. We didn't get potato salad. And a good Star Wars movie.
Honestly, after the first 10 minutes I would have been happy with potato salad. It's hard to fuckup potato salad. And it usually tastes good.

 No potato salad, but at least there was popcorn and a diet soda.

Rey turned out to be somebody. And a major somebody. In The Force Awakens I thought she would turn out to be another long-lost Skywalker. In The Last Jedi I wasn't so sure - she meddled too much with the Dark Side. And in The Rise of Skywalker Rey turns out to be Palpatine's granddaughter. I found this disappointing in more ways than one. Why?

1. Only a dude would come up with this idea.
2. Only a dude would be so narrow-minded with such a myopic view of the universe.
3. Only a dude would (consciously or not) come up with a setup that perpetuates the belief (held mainly by other dudes) that behind every powerful woman must stand an even more powerful dude who is the real source of her power.

Unbelievable that in this day and age, after all the years of Star Wars, Rey had to be reduced to a stereotypical, rebellious Disney princess. Who, in addition, gets saved by her knight in dark armor in the nick of time.

So much for female empowerment and for having a lead female character. In a typical dude fashion, the dudes responsible for this movie pissed on everything Rey has achieved so far and made her a Palpatine heiress.
The message to young girls is clear - don't even bother. Without a powerful father, grandfather, or uncle, you are indeed nothing. And while you are at it, make sure you have a last name. If you can choose your last name, make sure you pick a powerful one. Without a powerful last name, you are indeed nothing.

The whole movie seemed to be written with merchandise in mind. From Kylo's fixed helmet to the red-eyed Sithy C3P0 every merchandising opportunity was carefully mapped out and even more carefully executed. Too bad that the same care was not applied to storylines, pacing and editing. But this is what you get when you start prioritizing quantity over quality.

Incidentally, this statement about quantity over quality got me blocked by Delilah S. Dawson (who writes Star Wars novels, among other things) on Twitter. The statement wasn't directed at her, but I guess it must have hit too close for comfort. And even though she was advocating Love and Hope in her bloated Star Wars love letter, in a typical fashion of someone terribly insecure, but with a huge ego, she blocked me. How utterly predictable... As predictable as the plot of her "Phasma" novel. Coincidence? But I digress...

Anyway, where were we? Ah, yes. Quality.

Speaking of quality, what was up with all the strange angles in The Rise of Skywalker? Did the Director of Photography have some weird obsession with Rey's armpits? Nearly every shot was squarely centered on pits. That was the first thing that jumped out at me in the previews. The sea of pits. It's even worse in the actual movie. Let's just say I've seen more of Daisy Ridley's underarms than I ever thought possible. 

There was plenty more I didn't like about this movie, but who cares? Fanboys gonna fan anyway.
So, what did I like?

Chewie! I loved Chewie. He lit up every scene he was in. That Wookie is hot. 

In conclusion, it was a Star Wars movie and I was happy to see it. Would I pay to see it again? Nah... I'd rather get a frappuccino. But as part of inflight entertainment when I'm flying somewhere next year, sure I'll watch it again.

 I was going to see the movie again on Tuesday in Dubai, and on Wednesday in the Maldives. But now I think I shall spend my time in a more productive way instead. Like shopping, or snorkeling. Or taking a long nap.

In the meantime, there is always The Mandalorian. Deborah Chow, you are our only hope.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

The Dark Side at Dubai Mall

As mentioned in the previous post, Dubai Mall was presenting The Imperial Army, Star Wars™ Exhibit in December 2018 as part of their festive holiday season.

Now, what Star Wars have to do with Christmas still eludes me, but hey, no need to overthink such small details. That's unimportant.

What's important is that on December 30th, the last day of the exhibit, I had just enough time to zoom over from the airport to the mall to visit Lord Vader and his faithful stormtroopers.

My flight was changed a couple of times, and when I got my final itinerary, it turned out that I was eligible for Dubai Connect. That means that thanks to the generosity of Emirates Airlines, I was put up in a stinky dump known as Copthorne Hotel. The place must be one of the grossest accommodation armpits in all of Dubai, and even though Dubai Connect is free, usually I prefer to pay for my own hotel than stay there.

But... this trip was already going to be over the budget, and hey, budget trouble is my middle name. So, I swallowed my pride and let myself be driven to the Copthorne. It was as hideous as I remembered it from a few years back.

But... the bathroom was vaguely clean, there were towels and body soap and I was grateful for the chance to take a shower. Then I took a short nap, made myself look human, grabbed my stuff, checked out and hopped on the marvelous Dubai metro.

Gold car, naturally. I like to sit in peace, even more so if I'm lugging around a 7 kilos carry-on.

The walk from the Burj Khalifa station to the mall was pure torture. I almost wished I had taken a taxi. But hey... Over budget and stuff like that. When the long schlep was finally over, I realized just how out of shape I had gotten. Sitting on your bum all day and just working online (and this is what I do) is definitely not healthy.

But, but... Soon, my patience, effort and dedication were rewarded with this view.

Hello brothers, I'm home!!!

Hi boss!

I asked random security guys to snap a few pictures of me. They enjoyed it a bit too much.

One asked if he could wear my bucket, too. Hey, if a uniformed member of the security crew asks, it's best not to argue. He, of course, immediately took a selfie and instagrammed it.

I love Dubai, but on this trip I didn't have enough time to enjoy the city. I didn't have enough time to stroll through the mall, go to Starbucks, or buy postcards, or even go to the toilet. With my sole purpose fulfilled, it was time to get back to the airport.

I briefly debated taking a taxi, but then decided against it. If I managed to metro it one way, I felt confident I could metro it back. 7 kilos and all.

I arrived at the airport right on time to a lovely surprise waiting for me at the gate. Got upgraded to business class!

And that's how I flew to Kolkata in style.