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Star Wars Rogue One is a way better movie than I expected.

So I’ve been living under a rock. All I knew about Rogue One since its theatrical release was that it was a Star Wars spinoff movie. Imagine how it felt when I sat on the couch with Netflix expecting this:

and I got this:

Rogue One is the darkest movie in the Star Wars franchise, and it’s a better movie for it. Set during the height of the Empire’s power, it follows the adventures of Jyn Erso, whose mother is dead and whose father is a hostage. In the first scene we see of her adult life, she’s on the way to an Empire labor camp. Alliance fighters break her out and offer her a job.

I don’t want too reveal too much, but if you’ve ever wondered what idiot would build a Death Star that explodes on a single well-aimed photon torpedo, this movie answers that question.

It reminds me of what space opera is for. It isn’t science fiction. Space opera is politics, on the funnest canvas. If you live in a fascist society, what do you do? The human characters in this movie might have a comfortable life if they just gave up. The Empire echoes modern China a little. One of the battle scenes resembles Normandy – and war’s enormous price in lives.

The Empire’s military is made entirely of humans and its brass is entirely white humans. What kind of choice do the aliens have? What do you do when you run out of options? Give up everything?

We see a Rebel Alliance splintered into factions and military commanders disobeying orders all over the place. Is Alliance chaos better than Empire enforced unity? Do you keep fighting? Yes. The movie gives a resounding yes. To give up would be to be complicit in the evil thing Grand Moff Tarkin does on Scarif.

One of the functions of art is to show us what heroism looks like. Heroism when nobody is a Jedi and injuries hurt.

My problems with the movie are quibbles. The other characters treat Jyn like she’s the next Henry V but she’s not that good with words. Did the blind character have to have milky eyes? The CG Tarkin doesn’t look that bad … he just looks like he wandered in from the wrong movie.

The most moving part of Rogue One is the (spoileriffic) last half hour.






They killed a main character. I thought pfft, the robot character, that’s going to be a Disney death if I’ve ever seen one. Then they killed another … and another … nobody was going to get out. In the last five minutes of the film, the Alliance is reduced to extras, and they are scrambling, and desperate, and mortal. I salute the nameless soldier who couldn’t get himself through a broken door but could get a data card through.

If Prometheus had been an actual scientific expedition

I just went and saw the movie Prometheus the other day, and all I have to say is, ouch. And not just because Noomi Rapace gives herself a C-section, either. The problem is that now that I work in a science field, all science fiction movies have been ruined for me.

The science of Prometheus isn’t even all that bad. It takes some stabs at plausibility, like when the exploration team can’t breathe the atmosphere because it contains 3% carbon dioxide. That’s actually pretty accurate. Suddenly breathing 3% carbon dioxide, when it’s not what you’re used to, would be bad for you.

The bigger problem is the scientists. They make so many poor professional decisions in this movie, that if this had been a real research expedition, they would all have lost their jobs and been so thoroughly discredited they could never find another academic job, anywhere, ever. Sure, the idea was to make the movie more exciting, but I think it gives people the wrong idea about what the job is actually like. So I thought I would write this post about how Prometheus would have gone if the expedition had been run by actual scientists.

A biologist being stupid.

A biologist being stupid.

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Source: highlycontrasting.com

A 2009 psychological horror movie that was directed and written by Christopher Smith.  Jess, a waitress who’s struggling with raising an autistic son alone, is invited by her friend Greg to spend a day sailing off the coast of Florida with a few other people.  A mysterious storm wrecks their sailboat, then a mysterious ship called the Aeolus appears and everyone boards it.  Without giving away any spoilers, bad stuff happens.  And time travel.

The ending of the movie was chilling, but fifteen minutes later I began to notice holes in the plot that are ruining it for me.  Please, if you’ve seen the movie, can you explain the following?


(Everything that follows is a spoiler.)



  • Where did the time loop come from?  Jess is influenced to do a lot of things she does because of her future self.  But the first time she boards the Aeolus, her future self wouldn’t exist … right?
  • When Jess-with-a-sack attacks Jess-with-no-sack, Jess-with-no-sack wins.  So when Jess puts the sack on, she should still remember that she’s going to lose that fight.  So why does she attack Jess-with-no-sack?  Did she want to get thrown overboard?
  • If getting thrown overboard lets you escape the Aeolus, why doesn’t Jess just jump off?
  • Wouldn’t the weight of all the lockets and dead Sallys eventually sink the ship?
  • Is that creepy taxicab driver at the end Charon?