Battlefront-Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Review

The Star Wars Battlefront series (not the EA one) have always been my favourite Star Wars games, even now. That feeling of being one of the rank-and-file soldiers on the ground, fighting tooth and nail to gain ground, it’s amazing and makes you appreciate the common soldiers more. To me, Rogue One is close to an adaptation of that.

Rogue One tells the tale of how the Rebels come into possession of the Death Star plans, resulting in [40-YEAR OLD SPOILER ALERT] the destruction of the Empire’s planet-killing superweapon. [40-YEAR OLD SPOILER ALERT] A ragtag team of outcasts even by Rebellion standards, Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) the daughter of Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen), a key Imperial scientist, Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) an intelligence officer in the Rebel forces, Captain Andor’s loyal reprogrammed Imperial droid K2-SO (Alan Tudyk), defecting imperial pilot Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed), blind warrior Chirrut Îmwe (Donnie Yen), and Chirrut’s companion-slash-bodyguard with a blaster the size of a Warhammer storm bolter Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen) goes rogue (get it?) to steal the Death Star plans and get it to the Rebels before the planet-killer can be used against them.

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About to drop the hottest mixtape this side of the Outer Rim

The first thing that stands out from Rogue One is how it feels…grittier, and not in a bad way. We’re right there with the Rebels in the trenches and with the great chemistry of the cast, being attached to them is no tough feat. The stars of the day were truly the Alliance, the brave beings who laid down their lives in service to the cause.  As their foil, Ben Mendelsohn is Orson Krennic, the director of the Empire’s advanced weapons research division, along with Guy Henry, with the help of CG to bring back the late, great Peter Cushing as Grand Moff Tarkin, and a special appearance by Darth Vader.

Without giving out too much of the plot, Rogue One manages to fit snugly in the canon etablished by the Original Trilogy without contradicting (to my knowledge) anything that isn’t already made non-canon. In its execution, the plot does have its cliches, but given the amazing chemistry of the ragtag band of Rebels and the great interaction between them, I don’t much mind. Emotionally, this movie hits all the beats. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll drop your jaw in amazement, this movie has everything. Even when most of us know what’ll happen in the end, it still doesn’t help when the feels train hits. And it hits hard.

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Trooper squad goals

For all the fanboys, this movie is LOADED with easter eggs. From Dejarik tables, references to classic lines, to little offhand mentions of canon characters from other media, it’s fanservice central up in here. They even pulled the “May the force of others be with you” line from the early 1974 rough drafts. Even the set designs echo a lot of the design cues from the Original Trilogy and some shots feel like they were lifted from the Original Trilogy, making it feel old yet new at the same time. As I’ve said and I’ll say it again, someone needs to line up all the Imperial architects out back and shoot them. Just about everything they build is a workplace accident waiting to happen. But damn if they don’t look cool!

That said, all the sameness, while I’m not complaining, would probably rub some people the wrong way. And I can’t help but feel K2-SO is like HK-47-lite, but maybe that’s just me being bitter. K2, along with Chirrut and Baze’s banter still stole the show for me.

Bottom line, Rogue One is just as it’s advertised, a Star Wars story. While it’s not a standard Star Wars movie,  it’s fun, it’s heartwrenching, and by god, it’s awesome. Any opportunity to explore the galaxy far, far away is one that’s always welcomed to me.

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I Had Bad Dreams Over This — A Look Into Clean Room

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As a reader, I like to be kept in the not-know when I jump into a new title. The sense of discovery as every panel progresses along every issue is one of the things I look forward to, as well as all the good ol’ things that makes a comic a good one: among them plot, visual, and characters. And these are all what Gail Simone and Jon Davis-Hunt’s Clean Room provided.

I like to say that I’m not new to the horror comic book scene, having read Hellblazer years prior and the Scott Snyder-Jock project Wytches on the same day I started reading Clean Room. I’d say my basics of horror lore are none too shabby. And so, with a certain degree of expectations, I jumped in.

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The first three panels of Clean Room.

When I started on the first issue, I knew nothing about the title aside from its title, publisher, and the fact that Gail Simone is writing the book—all of which are enough reasons for me to start reading it. It being a Vertigo title, I knew from the start that some grisly contents were in store. What I didn’t take into account, however, was how brilliantly delivered those contents are. While the two titles mentioned above deliver horror in a traditional (yet still unconventional and genius in their own ways) sense, Clean Room is something else. It’s a detective story, science fiction, and horror tale thrown together in the blender that is Gail Simone’s mind, birthing something that doesn’t quite sit in any genre.

It’s grotesque, it’s smart, it’s emotionally moving, and most importantly, it’s deliciously unsettling—in a sense that it gave me my first real case of bad dreams for the first time in weeks. Yep, reading Clean Room before I went to sleep definitely wasn’t one of my brightest ideas. I woke up delighted, however, because that’s how I knew that this title is special.

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Demons behind the corporation–so to speak.

So what’s it about, you may ask? The first issue centers on Chloe Pierce who, after trying to kill herself in the wake of her fiancé’s suicide a few months prior, goes out to seek the truth behind her previously-happy lover’s untimely demise. Her quest brings her to Astrid Mueller, horror writer turned self-help guru, and the shady lot of activities she and her followers have apparently been doing behind the façade of motivational corporation. Those activities concern demon-like creatures that drive people crazy (or “hyper-emotive”, as preferred in the characters’ narrative) and can apparently only be seen by certain people. Astrid Mueller’s corporation is seemingly involved in a war against a greater force, but as bodies start dropping and questions start to be asked, Chloe Pierce vows to get to the bottom of whatever it is Astrid Mueller is doing.

It’s all going to feel pretty meta, especially in the first few issues, but as the story progresses, the pieces dropped here and there from the beginning will start to make sense—as much as they do, anyway. One of my favorite things about this title is how huge the mysteries in the lore are, leaving still enough holes in the fabric of issue-by-issue understanding that even when things are beginning to be revealed, I’m still left baffled and curious as to how the pieces of information will fit in the big picture.

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Bet this guy’s baffled, too.

The story is conveyed through the pencils of Jon Davis-Hunt with colors by Quinton Winter, and as opposed to the dark-and-twisted edge associated with conventional horror art, the panels in Clean Room are colorful in their realism. Davis-Hunt provides exceptionally detailed, tidy interiors, made even more eye-popping with Winter’s color palette. Make no mistake, however—the atrocity displayed in Clean Room is as graphic and delightfully detailed as in any other Vertigo title.

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Don’t say we didn’t warn ya.

Clean Room is cerebral and provoking and deeply psychological as well as being rooted in reality—a twisted one at that, but a reality nonetheless. It’s the type of story whose spirit you can feel crawling over your skin as you read on—and, let’s be real, a horror story that gives you goosebumps and bad dreams while still being visually realistic must be a hell of a good one.