Friday, January 1, 2016

5 Things on a Friday: We’re STILL Talking Star Wars

Happy New Year, folks!
If you haven't read "Blog in Review: Top 20 Posts of 2015", go do that now.
We’re still talking Star Wars here, so if you haven’t seen the movie, there are **spoilers** after the jump.  I mention this because my buddy Ray is stationed in Africa right now, and he’s as big a nerd as anyone.  However, they still weren’t showing the film at his tiny desert outpost last I heard.

The concept art for Anakin's return depicts him as a creepy disfigured ghost, so now fans continue to try to figure out who Anakin could be haunting—if anyone—in the future installments.

That concept art is badass.  Also, as I noted Wednesday, Vader is clearly haunting Kylo Ren.  Ren’s dialogue gives this away in the burnt helmet scene.
The new plans for Glass include a green light that will turn on when a user is recording video, according to the FCC filings.
Restaurants, movie theaters and strip clubs had banned the device over concerns users could surreptitiously use the eye wear to record video.
My real question is this—does it have a heads-up display for when I run or cycle?  Otherwise, I’m not sure I see the application yet.
[S]tatements made by Kasdan at the beginning of December suggest a more nuanced reality. He told the Los Angeles Times, “These movies are going to be so different. Rian Johnson is a friend of mine—he’s going to make some weird thing. If you’ve seen Rian's work, you know it’s not going be like anything that’s ever been in Star Wars.” Then an even more resounding vote of confidence came from Abrams himself earlier this week, who, according to Force Awakens actor Greg Grunberg, said that Johnson’s script for Episode VIII is so good that Abrams wishes he were the one directing it…
[B]y hiring Johnson, a splendidly original thinker, and handing him a considerable degree of power, Disney, Lucasfilm, and even Abrams have shown a rare awareness of their limitations. They’re welcoming the kind of filmmaker who doesn’t take the obvious or easy route, and that decision demonstrates a genuine understanding of what made Star Wars special in the first place: It showed audiences something they had never seen before. There are few directors I can think of who would be qualified to do that again. Johnson is one of them. Now let’s see how far Disney lets out that leash.
That’s the knock, right?  That Abrams recycled a lot of plot points.  I think it’s a bit unfair, but if you’ve seen Abrams’s stuff, you knew to expect it.  Star Trek: Into Darkness is a fine movie, but it is also an egregious remake.
Clearly the author of this piece hasn’t realized that Looper is also a remake—of the movie Terminator.  Granted, it turns about half of Terminator’s tropes on their heads, but the plot is still recycled piece by piece.  That doesn’t mean that I think Episode VIII will be unoriginal or anything, it merely means that all of these guys have influences, including Rian Johnson.  That’s not a bad thing, but it can get a little overdone at times.  
For what it’s worth, I really liked Looper.  The fact that it was inspired by another movie is not an indictment.  I might not have even noticed, truth be told, but the guys at Major Spoilers pointed it out, and after hearing their discussion, the similarities were obvious.
China has been ramping up its military spending to reflect its growing international influence. Naval power is of particular significance, with Beijing locked in a series of territorial disputes with regional neighbors in the East and South China Seas.
It's extensive claims in the South China Sea, where it's built artificial islands to bolster its assertions, have led to some tense encounters with American ships and planes in the region.
The Liansong, complete with ski jump takeoff ramp.
Beijing bought an aircraft carrier from Ukraine in 1998, refurbished it, and renamed it the Liaoning.  The stated purpose of the purchase was “research”, and having conducted that research, the Chinese Navy is ready to improve what was acknowledged at the time as an outdated design.  It’s a little surprising that they are retaining the “ski jump” deck design, but other than that, this is only notable in that it indicates that China is not willing to concede its territorial ambitions in the South China Sea without some considerable saber rattling at the very least.
5. Loss to Navy still bothers Monken (Recond Online)
As for Army’s future quarterback, Monken said both freshman Chris Carter, who started Army's last two games, and sophomore Ahmad Bradshaw, the team’s opening-day starter, will compete for the job. Carter impressed Monken with his ability to throw the ball on the run. Bradshaw is a stronger runner, Monken said.
“We have a good 1-2 punch.”
This article is included because it’s been a slow news week and because I’m a little surprised that Army plans a quarterback competition for the coming spring.  I wonder if maybe Coach Monken feels like he has to give Bradshaw a chance to win his job back for the sake of team morale.  Beyond that, this feels like a questionable decision.  Any reasonable observer will note that Chris Carter outplayed Bradshaw down the stretch by a substantial margin.  Bradshaw is the better runner between the tackles, sure, but Carter runs the offense better as a whole, and with his throwing ability, he opens up the playbook.  That’s huge.
Author Sal Interdato wrote two articles based on his interview with Coach Monken, the second of which can be found here.  Other noteworthy items include CB Josh Jenkins’ impending return, a discussion regarding the possibility of swapping CB Brandon Jackson to safety and S Xavier Moss to cornerback, and Army’s search for a new center.  Considering all the botched center-quarterback exchanges we’ve seen in the last few years, I’d consider that last item to be the most pressing.
That's all I've got, folks.  Enjoy the weekend.

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