[SciFi/Star Wars] Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Episode 8) (80%)

Star Wars: The Last Jedi came out about a month ago and I think that now after two views (distanced by about two weeks),  I can finally write down a final opinion on it. What I can tell, it created some serious divide between the critics and fans. Just look at the difference in scores in Rotten Tomatoes between critics (that lauded it) and fans (that some claims is even worse than Attack of The Clones).
So far, the best and most interesting fan review came from Kevin Smith. A very good hour in which he goes through details, highlighting the good and underlining the bad things about.
I decided to give it a few weeks before making my comments for one reason: the Jedi mind trick that hit me 15 years ago when Attack of the Clones came in screen. At first, I was “Oh yeah, it was awesome! One of the best Star Wars!” and still remember the diatribe from Rafic Djoumni, a former journalist in “Mad-Movies” (a well-respected French magazine about Sci-Fi and horror movies that was my favorite movies magazine). Looking back, the movie honestly did not survived the tides of time and is needed not as good as I remember (please someone remove Anakin meadow scene from my brain!).
ATTENTION————————SPOILERS AHEAD! YOU ARE WARNED!———————————-
So, there is the deal: the movie is good, better that was fans try to make you believe. But it is also not the masterpiece sold by critics. No, it is not “The Empire Strikes Back” quality (still awesome after thousands of watching and almost 40 years in the odometer). There are some good moments, and there are also just scenes I would have cut and I would not even notice I was missing something in the story plot. I feel Rian Johnson wanted to not follow the same steps than JJ Abrams and thought probably it was time for  his own vision of a trilogy. Although this can be a laudable move, it also meant that a lot of things brought by JJ went under the rug.
The movie starts with a bang, right where we kind of left it “The Force Awakens” and it is very intense. Imagine a WW2 bombing operation transposed in a galaxy far far away a long time ago. It was starting very well, but then started to stall at some point. The Rebels try to escape from the Imperial Fleet, only to be caught up a few hours after jumping out from Hyperspace. If you are accustomed to the reboot of “Battlestar Galactica” aka “BSG”, the plot of the first episodes named “33”. I don’t want to spoil much (because this is one of the most awesome Sci-Fi franchise from the mid-2000s I wished was aired in FrenchTV back then) as the Cylons are capable to track “the 12 colonies of Kobol” surviving fleet each time they jump from their FTL (faster than light) drive. Each time after 33 minutes.
This creates a plot in which the Rebels are in a sort of face-off, running out of fuel. Thats sounds a good plot but then you realize it runs on a paper thin. The Imperial fleet has a formidable firepower that would zap the fleet. No, they just stand waiting them to run out of fuel. Kylo Ren is keeping on the rage, only to be disciplined by Snokes. Enough to have Kylo to pick a Tie fighter and attempt a suicide mission on the main fleet vessel carrying General Leia Organa. He literally blew the ships deck with Admiral Ackbar in it sending Leia floating in space. This is where we have another ridiculous scene with CGI as good as “The Matrix Reloaded” (the infamous Playstation2 CGI). One of the sequence I liked however was the appearance of Laura Dern as Admiral Hodo. I was waiting for the “Fuck You, Poe!”, as I am still in all my Twin Peaks mindset and seeing Laura Dern playing the Diane tulpa. Her last move was a last kind of bravado act, going down with her ship as any respectable Captain do after ordering the crew to abandon ship (I almost felt Star Wars was getting inspiration from Trek). The whole sequence was simply a shock and awe, with a complete silence during the scene (remember…….in space nobody hear you scream!).
This scene is enough to questioning where Johnson wants to bring us. I guess it was meant to ramp into the sub-plot of the “Casino planet” that I thought was 45 minutes of major meaning. So I will skip this and go to Lukes plot. We left that with Rey finding Luke and handing him over his lightsaber, the same one he lost on Bespin in the Empire Strikes Back. Here comes the funny part that I liked about, seeing Mark Hamill throwing away the lightsaber and basically saying “enough of this BS”. I liked this whole sub-plot except the Porgs and the nuns. I felt seeing this part of the story was very good and show how the Jedi Council behind his allure of virtue and nobility are not as clean as they want to make things look like. They have sinned in their own way by their overconfidence and maybe also their inability to evolve. Seeing Yoda as a puppet was also a touching moment.
Rey rejoins the whole group and decide to confront Snoke. This is just bringing the second anti-climatic phase of the movie. Snoke dies like an idiot, Captain Phasma dies like an idiot. Both getting the Bobba Fett Mary Sue treatment. Both flattened out as a missed souffle. So we have been waiting two years for something that felt flat like a deflated balloon?
The last quarter of the movie was kind of awesome. It was somehow replaying the plot of the Battle of the Hott system. Seeing the evolved AT-AT and seeing the Rebels cornered brought in this level of stress that was initially here. Then came Luke (sort of), almost coming as a Messiah. And Hell he looked like the Chosen One in a scene reminding us of “The Matrix” Neo final scene, resurrected within the Matrix and capable to stop the  agents bullets and move faster than their moves. Seeing Luke being blasted with all the firepower and stood still made us feel Luke reached the uber-jedi  Rank and was appearing as the Jedi. Only to realize he was transposing himself from a distant galaxy, with the sunset on him. This final scene had some profound meaning for me because it was a direct call to my childhood heroes and it was also meaning that the sun is set on our childhood heroes. Han Solo was gone, Luke is gone and Leia is also gone.
My son loved it, but me I stood at the end of the credits sequence and thought. Maybe I am getting old, maybe I am becoming an old shmuck thats mind is stiffening overtime and incapable to show flexibility. I thought to myself that Episode IX will likely be my last one. I don’t see myself piling up another trilogy and I feel somehow sad to see that Star Wars is becoming a cash cow for Disney, milking it ad nauseam (we are not yet having Star Wars condom but I would not be surprised to have some). Maybe it is time, that as Luke, Han and Leia, I close my eyes on Star Wars.

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[Movies/Horror] George A. Romero (1940-2017)

Today, one of the masters of horror left us alone. Indeed, horde of zombies and living dead are orphan tonight. George A. Romero left us today at the age of 77.

What can I tell about Romero? He is the father of the zombies as we know it. All the zombies (not the infected ones like 28 days later) have in my opinion to follow the Romero’s canon: originated from an infectious agent, resulting in their transformation into creature solely driven by their reptilian brain and nourishing from flesh-eating.

But beyond the living dead image, Romero was indeed a very talented filmmaker, because the zombies, the living dead, were indeed us, a mirror image reflecting on our society.
Romero’s genius resided in his ability to shock and awe the viewer, but only to ask them to think about the symbolism and the meaning. Through the tetrad of the “Living Dead” (Night/Dawn/Day and Land), Romero was behind his movies stinging us in the heart of the society.

“Night” was indirectly bringing on the table the case of Vietnam war veterans and the racism that was still alive and kicking 100 years after the Civil War and just a couple of years after the Civil Rights Movement. Romero shook the American audience by having Duane Jones, an African-American, as one main character. This was a very bold and progressive move from Romero, but also a very provocative one. Jones was the hero, he was the one that set a barricade, where the “white savior complex” got slashed through the entire movie. The white man is coward, hide from the danger and will kill any non-white on sight. Duane Jones performance was fantastic and at the end of the movie *SPOILER ALERT* survived the whole living dead siege only to be shot from distance by a sheriff *SPOILER ALERT*.

“Dawn” was set about 10 years later than “Night” and at another period, another criticism of our society. That time, a virulent prosecution of the consumer society. It starts with the siege within a TV station in which the channel director fulminates on how the usual programming grid is interrupted in a middle of a major chaos. When we end with “Night”, we have this false sense that the situation is under control, that it was just some isolated incident. “Dawn” shows the gravity of the situation. Big cities are in total chaos, SWAT teams with National Guards and some enthusiastic drunken gun-totting civilians try to keep the situation in order. We see the society crumbling before our eyes, with law and order of the civil society sinking into abyss. The only refuge of all this chaos is…..a shopping mall. A f***ing shopping mall with living dead wandering around, as a reflection of their past lives. Again, another African-American takes the lead impersonated by Ken Foree. Where all people of the survival group lost themselves into their delusion, Ken stood still and focused and again one of the only one to survive, with an open-ending that keeps us with a question unanswered: with an helicopter running out of fuel and the two last survivors flying over in the horizon, did they make it safe or did they just die?
The contribution of Dario Argento resulted in two major directors cut, with my favorite is of course the Argento cut.

“Day” is again set 10 years later and again Romero’s use to fingerpointing at his best. The US is now invaded by living dead, only small pockets of resistance are maintaining their survival. This group ironically found refuge in a former ICBM silo. This one goes heavily on the US military, with the absurdity of the military in pursuing insane research, just look at Bubba experiment, such absurdity culminates at the end of the movie and only those that kept their ethics straight.

“Land” was certainly one that was the most misunderstood. It got half-bombed in the box office but was indeed one of the most visionary version 20 years early. A divided US, between those surviving in junk towns and the only happy few (a clear illustration of what we call “The 1%”) living literary in their ivory tower in a delusional world, dreaming of their “Make America Great Again” promised by the ruling class on the pleb, with pleb dreaming that one day they will also belong to that 1%.

George A Romero also had other movies that encountered much a mitigated success but George also acquired the highly distinguished title of “Master of Horror” with his collaboration on “Creepshow” with Stephen King.

Tonight, one Master of Horror gave us his latest salute. May your soul rest in peace and let your filmography haunt us with your spirit 😦

[Movies/SciFi] Star Wars – A New Hope (40th Anniversary)

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the release of the first Star Wars movie “A New Hope” (that will become Episode IV). I was -2 years when it came (likely a Type II oocyte hidden in a follicle) but it was my first Star Wars I had watched.
Imagine being a teenager or a kid and watching the original trailer:

I still remember how I had to fight with my sibling to share the TV on a Sunday night, as its airing was simultaneous to another movie, zapping to its channel during commercial breaks. It was love at first sight! Aliens, spaceships, lasers (pew! pew!), great villain (Darth Vader aka Dark Vador in French), the famous Tie fighters roar (Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrsshhhh!!!!).

It also started the rivalry between Star Wars and Star Trek. Historically, Star Wars surely took a lot from Star Trek “The Original Series” in terms of space technology and phasers. But Lucas also took a lot from action movies, from cape and swords movies (you can replace the lightsabers with regular swords, set the Death Star as a fortress and voila!), from Western movies (the Tatooine and Mos Eisley cantina surely reminds a good ol’ dirty saloon, you can replace Solo and Greedo with a Colt or a Smith & Wesson revolver and still achieve the same outcome), from war movies (the final battle of Yavin, you could almost put this into the biplane dogfights of World War I and have Darth Vader posing as Red Barron).

If Trek and Wars movies were into a ring for a death match, Wars would win easily. Wars also set the standard very high, putting Trek in a very difficult situation. Just see Star Trek: The Motion Picture and just put the popcorn aside. It is slow. Very sloooooooooow (did I say how much I hated the uniforms in that Trek movie?).

Maybe the great thing about Wars is its opening, with John Williams mythical opening credit theme (that was then used as a welcome hymn in “V” to greet the first delegation of aliens landing on Earth to collaborate with Earthlings) followed by the “must-have” scrolling text that serves us as a ramp into the action.

Then Boom! You see the Tantive IV being blasted, overflown by the Star destroyer. Bang, straight into the action, with the rebels preparing to be boarded by the Galactic Empire. How this cannot be awesome witnessing that with a kid? All sugar-coated by the remarkable work of John Williams and the London Symphonic Orchestra that blends the visual action with the percussions. Thats how you get kids into classical music!

There comes Lord Vader, this huge and dark figure, breathing through without a word watching the causalities lying around all over the place. Comes in the famous Leia scene and the escape pod. The first action moment of Darth Vader is marking any kids, the deep voice of James Earl Jones with the physique of David Prowse. Here we are. A badass and ruthless villain, all shrouded in mystery and strength.

Then comes the arrival in Tatooine (from the Tunisian town of Tataouine, Tunisia) and the encounter with the Jawas that make it accessible to the kids and introduce us to Luke Skywalker.

Follows up the introduction to Obi-Wan Kenobi, Han Solo, Chewbacca……the rest is history. A very tight and neat cuts that makes the narrative exemplary with little room for dead periods, bringing up the action as a roller-coaster without overkilling it.

Not even forgetting to mention the presence of Peter Cushing posing as Moff Tarkin and rival to Darth Vader, reminiscent of the rivalry of World War 2 movies between the Wehrmacht and the SS division. This is not innocent, as the Galactic Empire takes a lot of inspiration of Nazi Germany by its ruthless to achieve victory and homogeny at any cost.

Star Wars launched the first concept of merchandising, tying a whole toy line with the movie, setting probably the first massive toy collectionite in the galaxy. It is so engrained in the culture that almost anybody knows “Star Wars” without even watching the movie.
It surely inspired “Battlestar Galactica” TV series and James Bond “Moonraker”. It even was used as a codename for one of the most ambitious if not ridiculous Cold War operations aimed to put in orbit satellites with lasers to counter any threat from USSR.
It even had its “disco” soundtrack by Meco (oh man, it sounds so cheesy now!):

It sets up the spoof-movie “Spaceballs”, even inspired some local knock-off from Italian and Turkish movie producers like “Starcrash” (introducing a young ‘Hoff)

Or “Dunyayi Kurtaran Adam” aka “Turkish Star Wars”

And many mores….

Star Wars became an icon of a whole GenX culture (just see the Star Wars special episodes of “Family Guy” or “Robot Chicken”).
You cannot undo something that cannot be undone and Star Wars is one of these movies you can keep watching over and over again without feeling the boredom of watching them as it almost feel fresh despite knowing every single scenes.

“May The Force Be With You”

 

 

 

 

 

[SciFi/Star Trek] Star Trek The Motion Picture – Daft Punk Tron Legacy Audio Cut

If you are a Trekkie, you know the big debate about Star Trek: The Motion Picture (TMP). It was released about the same time than Star Wars: A New Hope and when you come from Star Wars, TMP appears slow….very slow…….and also kitsch. Very kitsch. I am still try to understand how, 40 years later, they had made the decision on the Starfleet costumes (some ugly PJs that should have never seen light, even back in the 70s).

Now something interesting came that week, someone has the genius idea to blend TMP, cut into the extra-fat and plugged in “Tron Legacy” soundtrack. Oh boy, I really loved that sequel to “Tron” with the remarkable work of Hans Zimmer and Daft Punk, through their MOOG synthesizers, giving this primal electronic sounds that as synthetic is can carry some of the deepest emotions. The photography was sleek, it was well directed and was giving a major upgrade to “Tron”.  Just look back at the famous Light Cycle scene how the video and the audio blended perfectly:

Suddenly, TMP becomes a new movie and really makes me think if there was some very clever cut, with a re-designed soundtrack, could become much more watchable. It also now revived my interest in “Tron: Legacy” and I really hope Disney decides to get “Tron3” from the back-burner.

 

[Movies/SciFi] Turbo Kid (80%)

Sometimes a good surprise can await you around the corner. This was the case of “Turbo Kid”, as it popped as a suggestion on my digital service.
Turbo Kid is a French-Canadian movie written and directed by François Simard, Anouk Whissell, and Yoann-Karl Whissell. Not much famous actors in the cast except with the exception of Michael Ironside (known for his role as Ham Tyler in the original “V” series).
“Turbo Kid” is not totally new to me, as the first iteration known as “T for Turbo” was the prototype for it and frankly it created a huge buzz:

It rightfully made a loud buzz by its VHS feeling of an 80’s post-nuke movie, a kind of genre I have been bottle-fed thanks to the Italian moviemaker. All the ingredients were already in: the post-nuke wasteland, the abandoned quarrel, the Bontempi synthesizers, the cheap gore effect, and the BMX ride. Even the inspiration of the “Cannon Pictures” gives this huge nostalgic vibe.

The plot is fairly simple but fairly fun. The plot takes place in a post-nuke 1997, in a quarrel posing as a wasteland. Water is scarce and became a precious commodity. In a complete anarchy, the law of the jungle prevails: the survival of the fittest.
“The Kid”, the main protagonist, lives on scavenging on his BMX bike and fomenting revenge to Zeus (played by Michael Ironside), as Zeus killed his mom in front of him. Taking courage from reading “Turbo Rider”, a comic book.
One day, the Kid finds Apple, an android girl that quickly becomes attached to him. This only starts the trouble once Apple get kidnapped by Zeus and fleeing from his minions, the Kid ends up in an abandoned vehicle and finds the remain of a certain “Turbo Rider”….

The movie is not aiming very high but it hits hard on the GenXers like me. You could almost believe you have seen this movie as a kid, as the feeling is so genuine to 80’s Sci-Fi B-movies, especially Italian post-nukes: They were cheap, the plot was quite often cheesy. But oh gosh they were great and fun to watch!

Here is the official trailer, you can catch the full movie on Netflix:

[SciFi/StarWars] Carrie Fisher 1956-2016

Damn you 2016! I wished I did not have to write down this eulogy when the news broke on Friday afternoon. I knew the pathophysiology of a massive heart attack! I knew the consequence of a myocardial infarction! I knew the risk of cerebral ischemia following cardiac arrest! Yet, as report of her condition was stabilized and kept into ICU, I had hope that she will be back on track, that she will have suffered no cerebral damage, that she will be back on her feet and continue to animate TV shows and comic-cons with her joy, her sarcasms and her “bring it on!” attitude that percolated through Princess Leia performance.
Carrie epitomized the princess of space-opera: a princess that shoot on target better than any stormtrooper, a princess that kept quiet even under the torture, a princess that did not mind to set back on track space pirates, smugglers and scoundrels, a princess that stood on her mission until the last minute ensuring every single staff under her command was safely escaped, a princess that stood up to her love and went all over the galaxy to find him back, a princess that raised a whole generation of boys (dont look at me like this, I know you also share this snarky look on Leia’s bikini costume) into early puberty and girls into an iconoclasm of the “fairy-tale princesses” to become “kick-ass princesses”. Carrie brought so much that even one my daughter has her name inspired by the name of the Organa princess.
But little knew, and I knew little, about what Carrie has been going through during all these years. In all her majesty and highness, she put words and a friendly face on mental health, reminding everyone the true cost of living with bipolar depression and its toll by seeking addictive behavior. She taught us how mental illness is not some caprices, some imaginary disease to seek attention or some condition that you simply “get over it”.
Carrie also posed as a remarkable script doctor, making sure dialogues were properly in place and without hesitation correcting them (there is a floating script of TESB Star Destroyer scene with her comments all over that made this peculiar sequence unique).
I had hope she will survive her condition, but no one on Earth can tell you if you can survive or not. I can tell you the statistics, the odds of survivals, the risk factors but no one can tell if you will survive and recover.
Farewell, your Highness 😦

[Sci-Fi/Star Wars] Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (85%)

Last week came Rogue One, the first movie inspired by Star Wars that is set aside the series canon, kind of a free electron bridging the gaps between two episodes. Big expectations, risk of big disappointment but also big hopes marked that 12-months waiting period between Episode VII that was fairly good and Episode VIII due to theaters by the end of 2017.
After some conflicting schedules and weather increments that restrained me to watch it upon its release day, I was able to catch it up and watch it although not in the best condition (this is why you should never try to book a seat at the last minute!). Here is my review and feedback.

**********************ENTERING THE SPOILERS ALERT ZONE******************

My first big disappointment was the opening sequence. It starts with the classical sentence “A Long Time Ago, In A Galaxy Far Far Away”. You expect to hear John Williams opening theme and the classical Star Wars followed by the yellow scrolling abstract setting the tone of this part. Nope, you are just into action straight out from the Hyperspace.
It starts with a descent into the planet Lah’mu, filmed in Icelandic location near Myrdalssandur. Thats give a very dense gray and black tones that sets the tone of this movie: it will be dark and gloomy.
It introduces us to Galen (Madds Mikkelsen, the brain behind the Death Star), Lyra (Valene Kane, Galen’s wife), and Jyn (Felicity Jones, daughter of Galen and Lyra and one key element of the Rogue One team). As Jyn plays, Orson Krennic (head of the Imperial Weapons Development program, played by Ben Mendelssohn) arrive with his praetorian black Stormtroopers. You have to admit, the black color makes the stormtroopers look rad! Jyn flees upon her father’s order into a secret hideout, only to be saved by Saw Gerrera (played by Forest Whittaker).
I am not very familiar with Saw Gerrera (except his armor looks a lot like a Fallout T-51 power armor) because I kept myself away from the expanded Star Wars Universe and the animated series such as Clone Wars (with the exception of the seasons covering the timelines between Episode II and Episode III) and Star Wars Rebels. However, if you have followed the animated series, you should be familiar with the series.
Then I found things got messed up. We get introduced to the other part of the skeleton crew that will form the Rogue One team without any logical sequence and it will take a good 30 minutes before you can connect the dots together.
First, we are introduced to Bodhi Rook (played by Riz Ahmed), a defected Imperial pilot, that comes into the Jedha planet and taken to Gerrera by one of Gerrera’s henchman. Suddenly we are transported into another story and another location and introduced to Cassian Andor (played by Diego Luna) and introduced to adult Jyn (15 years separates the attack on Lah’Mu and the present time), let rotting in an Imperial detention center.
Jyn got freed by Cassian, allowing us to get introduced to K-2SO, a reprogrammed Imperial robot that have a good sense of sarcasm and humor (something a bit similar to Futurama’s Blender, but with a less explicit mouth). Following her release, Jyn is brought to Yavin IV and bring us back to the original Star Wars lore. This was the first big bluff to see Mon Mothma, a remarkable copycat copy of the original Caroline Blakinston (Return of the Jedi) this time played by Genevieve O’Reilly. Also the surprising presence of Bail Organa gives this little easter egg that helps binding between the prequels (I,II and III) and the original trilogy. It is a nice one but also create one of the many conundrums in Star Wars logic. He is on Yavin IV almost the full period of the movie and almost like a stupid move go to die vaporized on Alderaan. Such little details like this are the same one that undermined this movie.
During this meeting, Mon Mothma instruct Cassian and Jyn to get in contact with Gerrera in Jedha, as Gerrera (leader of a guerrilla fighting off the presence of Imperial troops in Jedha) is hostile to anyone trying to get in touch with him. As a sidetone Cassian is also briefed that his next mission will consist of killing Galen. This is an interesting development in the story arc. The Rebel Alliance was always presented as a faction with a certain sanctity, killing only stormtroopers and Imperial forces by necessity during battles. This mission sounds more like an extrajudicial killing and smears on the white sheet that the Rebel Alliance draped in the original trilogy. This is also emphasized later in the expedition on Jedha with the terrorism act committed on an Imperial convoy in Jedha (from Gerrera’s liberation guerrilla) resulting not only in several civilian casualties but also in the ultimate collective punishment. These two aspects are highly echoing the Syrian conflict in which propaganda from both sides of the conflict are trying to minimize their atrocities in their quest for victory, only resulting in civilians (taken in the middle of the cross-fire) to pay the heaviest price of all: complete destruction. The destruction of Jedha by the Death Star is also highly symbolic of the abusive superpowers forces to bow down their enemies by targeting their civilian populations: American (WW2 German carpet bombing of major cities like Hamburg, Berlin or Dresden; Vietnam), Russian (carpet bombing of Chechnya’s Grozny; Syria’s Aleppo), German (Paris bombing during the 1870 war; WW1’s Somme and Northeastern France bombing; Spain’s Guernica campaign; WW2’s London bombing campaign…..).
As Jyn meets finally her former savior (Gerrera), we finally get the crystallization and reach finally a semblance of narrative after a hodgepodge series of sequences that resulted in a very messy and chaotic introduction to Rogue One team. As this point, we have a skeleton crew of what I would call misfits but completely dedicated members: Jyn, Cassian,  K-2SO, Bodhi, Chirrup Imwe (played by Donnie Wen, a blind monk-warrior strongly believing in the force) and Baze Malbus (played by Jiang Wen,  mercenary harboring a laser Gatling and Imre BFF).
This encounter is only short-lived as Krennic decides to test-fire the Death Star on Jedha.
This was some mind-blowing sequence in the movie: first, it was an impressive moment to see Peter Cushing raised back from the dead thanks to modern CGI (it also shows how we are coming far from The Matrix Reloaded Playstationesque VFX). It was also some “shock and awe” moment to see the Death Star blowing up the planet in a death that was slow and painful: unlike the immediate blow of Alderaan as depicted in Episode IV, it is slow enough (maybe a good 10-15 mins) to have the population assist to their own death without any chance to escape it. Suddenly, the memorable quote from Obi-Wan Kenobi before the arrival in the Alderaan system takes its true meaning. However, this also creates another conundrum as Alderaan explosion does not make sense anymore. This is where an update of this scene can significantly gain in its impact. The silly moment is certainly Gerrera standing in the collapsing Jedha although he could have fled. Facing death in Sci-Fi movies is the hallmark of spaceship captains, not some revolutionaries.
The movie then take us to us to Eadu in which Cassian is appointed to kill Galen but also highlights on the logistical mess that the Rebel Alliance (and often most rebel groups and resistance) is. It is one of the darkest and gloomiest sequence (also marked by the photography) by several aspects: Krennic’s cold-blood execution of engineers following Galen’s leak to rebels, the death of Galen in Jyn’s hand allowing only few second to reunite with Jyn after 15 years before dying in her arms.
The end of the second third of the movie is marked by a sequence full of references: a volcano planet (Mustafar?) that holds a dark Sith castle, a bacta tank (TESB anyone?) with a severely malmed individual in it. It brings Darth Vader in a short sequence, just teasing for the final sequence.
The final third of the movie is made to recover the Death Star plan located on Scarif planet (filmed in the Maldives island), a paradise planet that will become an apocalyptic hell. It is one of the greatest battles that I even see: First it points out the lack of the Rebel Alliance readiness to fight off the Empire. Second it demonstrate that the Rebel Alliance lacks any maturity in the decision-making and leadership, a feature that undermine many failed revolutions. Third, it combines both the Episode’s V battle of Hoth (with a strong feeling of the D-Day Normandy assault as depicted in the “The Longest Day” ) and episode’s VI galactic battle of Endor. Fourth, this battle concluded in a “bad ending” scenario. No Naboo fest, No Endor fest, no ceremony…….None of the Rogue One members survive, with Jyn and Cassian’s seeing their own fate unfolding with the explosion of the planet, displayed by a giant atomic mushroom that vaporize them. Finally, we have a sneak peek of Darth Vader coming in full rage, slashing through rebels in a Tantive-like vessel as never seen before. We are lead to speculate that this is the same vessels than Princess Leia but only figure out that it was a diversion as an escape shuttle jump to hyperspace to give the information to Princess Leia. This is also a side of the movie that was disturbing: a CGI Carrie Fisher rejuvenated by 40 years, making the direct link to Episode IV.
This is also creating a major conundrum in the canon: we have another feeling of incoherency that marked the first third part of the movie. It felt Leia just dropped in as a convenience. It also raises the credibility of the Rebel Alliance to face the Galactic Empire immediately after being smashed on Scarif.
Overall, Rogue One is way better that any prelogy chapters. It has some good vibes of the Empires Strikes Back but still not reach A New Hope. It somehow looks better  than Return of the Jedi but fare below a New Hope. Also if you are fond of the Jedi mythos (I honestly does not give a care about the Jedi/Sith mumbo-jumbo in general), you will be disappointed. But if you want to see great Sci-Fi features (aliens, spaceships and lasers) you will be in heaven.