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FDChief

I think what I LIKED most about this was that it's Star Wars told from the grunt's POV.

I mean...yes, SW is Luke's King Arthur story. He and his coming-of-age are the important, central portion of that story, and all the stories, in Lucas' universe. It's the Hero's Quest, and as such the Hero is in the center.

But...it's also a WAR story. I mean, the word is right in the title. And wars, whilst they may be LED by the Hero are FOUGHT by Joe and Molly, whether they're carrying a spear or a sword or a crossbow or a blaster or a thermal detonator. But from all the other SW tales you'd never know it.

(As an aside...don't get me started on the Lucas version of combat; the fact that his land battles were staged purely for visual effect always makes the old drill sergeant in me come up out of my seat roaring "Cover? Concealment? Fire and movement, you stupid $#%!#!@!!??? What the hell is your malfunction? Lemme see your squad leaders right this goddam minute..!")

But this time, for the first time, we get to see how hard those mob-handed battles would have been on the rebel grunts. No wonder the Rebellion was so demoralized; the Imperial troops were good at being bad guys (and another thing I appreciated about RO was that for the first time the stormies in particular and the Imps in general came off as genuinely dangerous as individual troops; like American troops in Iraq, they have all the high-tech goodies and all the firepower and all the logistical support in the galaxy.)

Demoralized? Like an amateur boxer trying to go ten rounds with the heavyweight champ; even when you land one you know it's gonna suck.

So while I agree with a lot of your criticisms (I agree that Jones' part was a cypher, didn't like the Cushing CGI, either, and I'd have liked to know more about Chirrut and Bodhi and the other troopers, too) I appreciated this one as an individual GI's version of all those other SW battles; pointless because to the person behind the blaster-rifle it's ALL pointless. There's no heroes, no kings or jedis, no glory and no glamor. You do your best to accomplish your mission and live, or die.

And if even in dying you do your duty and accomplish the mission...well, THAT's the point, and was the point here; the rebels do their jobs, do their duty and in that "rainy marching in the painful field" they end up giving the rebellion "hope".

Well done, troopers.

FDChief

Two other quick observations:

1. I thought that the importance of the Chirrut character is not that he's "slightly mad" but that he actually believes. Even back in the earliest works in this universe I never got a sense that Vader's "religion" was an actual religion. It seemed, at best, a sort of woo-woo philosophy to give Yoda an excuse to be all aphoristic and, at worst, just a series of magician's tricks; psychokinesis and choking people out when they piss you off.

Chirrut is one of the first SW characters that actually treats "their religion" as an actual religion. and, in so doing, makes the point so typically elided in Lucas' canon that this "Force religion" thing IS an actual religion, and as such inspires people to acts of faith.

2. Vader is little used here, true. BUT...I disagree that he is a "shadow of his former and future selves" for just one reason; that final battle in the rebel command ship corridor.

We're so used to Vader just stalking around choking people and dueling only with his peers that it was easy to forget why he was so damn scary. But when he wades through an entire squad-plus of armed rebel troopers? THAT was damn scary.

To a peer foe like Obi-Wan or (eventually) Luke he was mad, bad, and dangerous to know, yes. But to a regular grunt he was like a force of nature, a freaking human wrecking ball, and with that one scene you were reminded why he was such a frightening enemy and why having Luke as the Rebel Arthur was so important...

Lance Mannion

Chief, lots of good points. Thanks for taking the time to post them. I have some thoughts in return but I have to put dinner on right now, so just this one quick: One of the characters I was interested was one of the commandos who join the team for the final mission. I didn't catch his name, if he even had one, and there wasn't really much to him. But he was clearly a sergeant or lieutenant or at most a captain, someone who knew how to lead a company of soldiers in a firefight. He pretty much saves the mission.

They couldn't have done a whole lot with him but I wish we'd at least heard someone call him Sarge or Lute or Cap.
I wish we'd heard so

FDChief

I think the guy you're thinking of was a sergeant, given in the credits as "Sergeant Melshi" and played by Scottish actor Duncan Pow.

He's the leader of the squad that holds the landing bay and who Andor keeps talking to over his comlink, and, yes; I wish he'd been more clearly singled out as "Sergeant So-and-so" (Andor just calls him "Melshi" in the flick).

Lance Mannion

Chief, thanks for looking up Melshi. I guess it would have been too out of keeping to have the others call him Sarge. My son's glad to learn that the actor's a Scot because he thought he sounded Scottish.

FDChief

What would have been perfect is if one of his troopers HAD called him "Sarge" and Melshi had snapped back something like "That's SERGEANT MELSHI to you, hero!" Us NCO-types are more arrogant and stuffy about our titles than any nobility...

El Jefe

FDChief,

:) This is a true thing you have said. Also what you had to say about Lucas' "effects-based" approach to staging battles (how Rumsfeldian of him, really.) When the force with the closest thing to a reasonable CONOPS (leaving out the suicide run at Death Star I) is the Ewoks, there are some issues that need sorting out. A long time back either iO9 or Slashdot ran a piece about the Death Star's vulnerability and the first commenter (who from the sound of it had a milblogging background) did such a beautiful parody of an inside-the-bubble Imperial officer defending the whole setup it's possibly the best satirical comment I have ever read in any thread, on any subject. Wish I could track it down.

Also your paean to the grunts is entirely correct. Even at age eight when I saw ESB in an old fashioned movie palace (ah for a *real* screen size these days) I had a feeling for those ground-pounders out in the snow (played incidentally by the Norwegian Home Guard, who may have seen some similarities vis a vis a Soviet invasion of Finnmark headed for the container port at Tromso) who dyed Hoth red so there could be a Jedi again, who decayed in the snow so the smarter Skywalker (the one who went by Organa) could help rebuild the galaxy, who found themselves one with the Force in a damned hopeless mess but let the Millennium Falcon fly free so it could tear through the heart of the next Death Star. Seconds of screentime in which they were massively outgunned and overpowered, but none of the rest of it happens without them.

El Jefe

To follow on the last sentence of my last comment, of course then they were SPOILER. There's no other plausible outcome but for them to SPOILER. It's the mission and it's the outcome. That hope can come out of it nonetheless, tangible, workable hope, is in many ways a far greater reward than a bunch of Ewoks singing "Yub Nub" while they dine on slow-roast stormtrooper. Given our common language of old war movies think of it in its own way as a more realistic Guns of Navaronne where there's no magic fishing boat hidden away to whisk off the characters considered interesting enough to save under late-stage Hays Code rules. And no honorable Wehrmacht types deciding not just to put a Luger to bedridden Anthony Quayle's head when the charges go off to reduce their bureaucratic liability. (Sidebar: Quayle, like Christopher Lee, had actually served with SOE in the Balkans so his part was kept to a minimum in part because it was hard on him reliving very real experiences in his mind on the relative hollowness of a sound stage.)

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