I knew from the opening shot of Rogue One that this wasn’t going to be like every other Star Wars movie. It wasn’t just the visual cues that gave it away. The ominous music and the lack of the legendary opening crawl emanated this vibe that this movie was going to be something different, something special. And oh it was. It was Star Wars like I’ve never seen it before.
Rogue One is tonally completely different from Star Wars as we know it. Rogue One is essentially a war movie, albeit one set in a galaxy far, far away (think Guns of Navarone set in space). It takes the happy, relatively fun feel of the other Star Wars movies and drags it down to Earth (or Tatooine, or Naboo, or whatever, you get the point). It’s gritty and realistic (well, as real as the Star Wars Universe can get), but somehow, it’s still Star Wars. That is what makes this movie special – despite being so different, it still feels so familiar.
The first day of the Science Fair was quite uneventful – not too many students came to the labs to look at the experiments (the crowd’s usually on the second day) and the judge was scheduled to come the next day. It was rather boring for the most part except for the fiasco Roy and I were in right at the beginning of the day –
When I reached school, I ran past my classroom and headed straight for the chemistry lab. The previous day I had struck up a deal with one of the lab assistants, Mallick Da – he gives us the seat that Roy and I want in lieu of us refilling all the empty bottles of distilled water in the lab. Seemed quite fair at the time.
Roy waddled into the lab with a childish grin on his face a little after I had come. I suggested that we make a quick sample just for the fun of it; I found the experiment really fascinating and couldn’t get enough of shaking the solution and seeing it change colour instantly. As soon as I said this, we both realized that we hadn’t exactly measured the amount of each chemical we had used the last time we had performed the experiment. I tried to replicate that day’s perfect solution by adding what I thought was roughly the same amount of each chemical as I had added that day. Of course, Roy was getting anxious and hyperactive and screaming into my ears every other second, “How do you know you have to add that much?!” When the solution was prepared, we waited for it change colour, but to our horror, it was staying as blue as a B.B. King song.
Disclaimer: This post is going to be filled with spoilers about The Force Awakens, so that’s a fair warning for you if you haven’t watched the movie. If you want a spoiler-free take on the movie, read my spoiler-free review that I posted just yesterday – https://beingnickyb.wordpress.com/2016/01/03/star-wars-episode-vii-the-force-awakens-review-spoiler-free/
While watching the iconic opening crawl, I was stumped to read that Luke Skywalker had literally gone missing and that no one knew where he was or why he’d disappeared. My mind was buzzing with different theories about his disappearance and also about the plot of the movie. I initially assumed that this would be a “find Luke Skywalker” adventure where our heroes and villains would scour the galaxy for him and I was disappointed by that prospect, but thankfully, I was relieved to find later on that it was not so.
In my review of The Force Awakens, I said that there was a point very early on in the movie when I just knew that this was going to be a really good ride. I can finally divulge the details of that here. It was when Kylo Ren kills Lars von Tekka (Max von Sydow’s character) and Poe shoots at Kylo Ren in anger and then, Kylo Ren suddenly turns around as the camera zooms in and holds his right hand up and stops the blaster bolt mid-air. I’ve seen people using the Force in many ways in the movies, but I have never seen that. This is one of the things that I liked about the movie – they use the Force in many similar ways, but also add some new things into the mix to keep everything fresh. Another example of the Force being used differently is when Kylo Ren just stopped Rey dead in her tracks – it was like she was frozen by a tractor beam. The film treads familiar paths, but innovates enough to make me feel as amazed as when I watched Star Wars for the first time.
There was a point very early on in The Force Awakens when I just knew that this was going to be one of the most pure Star Wars experiences ever. George Lucas said in an interview and I’m paraphrasing of course, “Disney wants to give the fans what they want and love with The Force Awakens.” And what better way to do that than to let a mega-fan direct it – J.J. Abrams’ love for Star Wars shines through in every scene and the love and effort poured into the movie is evident right from the first shot, which by the way is so reminiscent of that of A New Hope. Actually, the plot of The Force Awakens is very similar to that of that of Episode IV, but for the sake of keeping this review spoiler-free, I won’t delve into further details. Nostalgia plays a huge factor in this movie, not just with its beloved returning characters but also with so many easter eggs. I loved how they acknowledged the events of the previous movies to make the galaxy feel old and like it has many, many stories to tell. Nostalgia notwithstanding, the movie is excellent and can stand on its own two feet without resting on its laurels.
Today was one of the best days of my life. I’m not exaggerating, it’s not just a phase that’s going to pass over soon – today was the day I watched a Star Wars movie in a theatre and what made it sweeter was that it was The Force Awakens. The movie actually released a week late in India, i.e., the 25th, not the 18th because of some stupid Hindi movies that didn’t even do that well at the box-office. Even then, I watched it 6 days after its release in India – seems strange for a Star Wars fanatic like me, but luck wasn’t on my side and I had scheduling problems. I’d made plans to watch it on the 26th with a friend, but the guy was as unreliable as a Stormtrooper’s aim and the plan went blew up like a thermal detonator. For a brief moment, I thought that I may actually miss the movie and I’d never forgive myself for that. So, I was dogmatic in my approach when I asked my father, no, demanded that we (my family) watch it as soon as possible. I was probably this aggressive because we were scheduled to go on a short holiday with my aunt, uncle and two cousins to Bhubaneshwar and Puri and fitting in things such as movies in a holiday is as difficult as quipping better than Han Solo. Thankfully, my father said that all of us would watch the movie on the 1st of January. At the time it seemed like a long way away, but if I could wait over a year for the movie, I could surely wait a few more days.
There were only twenty-five minutes left, but that seemingly short amount of time was excruciating – my back ache had worsened, probably because a particularly garrulous couple was pushing up against me from behind and I was squeezed between them and this lady in front of me. There was also this woman in front of my mother who kept passing things to someone behind me by passing them over my head and I had to duck constantly to avoid getting hit. However, the silver lining was this girl diagonally in front of me who was a super fan of MLTR – she was the most ebullient person there and her energy was infectious. She was there with her boyfriend who didn’t seem to know who MLTR were and she was most probably introducing him to the band. He was the polar opposite of his girlfriend – phlegmatic and composed. Yet, he looked slightly embarrassed by her antics which included shouting at the bouncer standing in front of her for blocking her view. Nonetheless, they were fun people to have around me and I enjoyed their company.
Yesterday I attended my first music concert (non-orchestral). At 16, I guess it’s pretty late for such a thing, but when you consider the place I live in, it should come as no surprise. Calcutta, otherwise known as the cultural capital of India, is inhabited by people with the musical taste of a two-year old. Whenever international bands or solo artists tour India, they always bypass this city of mine and that’s left me sore on many an occasion. However, last month, my mother read an article in the newspaper announcing that Michael Learns To Rock would be performing here in Cal on the 17th of December. This was a band I’d grown up listening to, mostly due to my parents who adored it. The “Assorted” folder in my parents’ music collection contains songs by MLTR like 25 Minutes, Sleeping Child and Out of the Blue. The prospect of hearing these guys live made my mother and me ecstatic.
The event was scheduled to be held on the field of The Calcutta Cricket and Football Club from 5 onwards. The tickets were surprisingly expensive and were categorized into General, Gold and Premium, the differences being the first is the standing area some distance from the stage and the latter two providing you with a seat closer to the stage. We decided that my mother and I would attend the concert and so we bought two General tickets which set us back four thousand rupees. (Each Gold ticket was five thousand rupees and each Premium was ten thousand.)