Movie Review – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Rogue One: A Star Wars StoryRogue One

Directed by Gareth Edwards

Starring Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmend, Jiang Wen, and Forest Whitaker.


So, when Disney bought Lucasfilm and started pumping out their new Star Wars films, they also promised a series of standalone films set outside the main saga.  As Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy said, “It’s about thinking of the Star Wars universe as a setting, rather than a saga.”  And here we are now with the first of that series, Rogue One.  We all know that events of Star Wars (A New Hope) kick off when the Rebels get their hands on the Death Star plans, but did you ever wonder how they got them?  That’s the story Rogue One sets out to tell.


Jyn Erso has been living on her own, ever since her father Galen was abducted by the Empire.  But now, Erso has been brought in by Rebel forces in need of her help.  A defector from the Empire has word of a terrible new weapon that the Empire is developing, and Galen was one of its creators.  The defector, Bodhi, has a message from Galen for Jyn about this weapon.  With Jyn now a reluctant rebel, our team is off to find Galen and find out more about this weapon.  Meanwhile, Director Krennic, the one in charge of the project, is desperate to find the leak on his team, as it looks like the Empire is about to wrest control from him and give the weapon project to <spoiler redacted>.  Will Jyn and the rebels find her father?  Will they uncover the secret of this new weapon…this Death Star?

What I Liked

The humour.  A lot of the characters have a dry sense of humour, no doubt the gallows humour that comes from being in the trenches.  I really liked Donny Yen’s character, Chirrut Imwe, who was a Jedi temple guard back in the day.  While he’s not a Jedi and cannot use the Force, he believes in the Force and is a fierce hand-to-hand combatant.  There’s a lot of fun cameos, some amazing special effects, and much like the Force Awakens, the last 10 minutes are one gigantic nostalgia-fest that had me in tears.

What I Didn’t Like

Would have been nice if we got to get to know our new characters a little more.  Even though she was our lead, I never really got to know Jyn as a character.

Final Verdict

A very enjoyable addition to the Star Wars canon.  Loved it quite a bit.

3 Nibs

Christmas Special: Scarecrow’s Second Christmas Mix Tape

December is upon us, and I just had an itch to do a Christmas U62: The Targpodcast.  As I explain in the podcast, every three or four years, I figure I need to freshen up my Christmas music library, and buy a bunch of new Christmas albums.  I did that last year.  So as I was scrolling through my Christmas music, listening to the tunes as I decorated the apartment, I figured I should share this music in a podcast.

And this, Christmas Special: Scarecrow’s Second Christmas Mix Tape.  I mostly play a bunch of my favourite Christmas songs, and in between, I share some stories of the season.

  • I celebrate some little victories.
  • I share what I want for Christmas (a classic NES, if they can still be found.)
  • I share a little bit on the history of A Christmas Story
  • And a special holiday edition of Mark Tastes Random Things, where I try all the Christmas pepperminty stuff from Tim Hortons.

All this and more in Christmas Special: Scarecrow’s Second Christmas Mix Tape.

Download here!

And subscribe in iTunes!

Movie Review – Moana

MoanaMoana Poster

Directed by John Musker and Ron Clements; co-directed by Don  Hall and Chris Williams

Starring the voices of Auli’i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Rachel House, Temeura Morrison, Jemaine Clement, Nicole Scherzinger, and Alan Tudyk.


Some were excited for Moana because she’s Disney’s newest princess.  Others are excited because Broadway’s current superstar Lin-Manuel Miranda did the songs.  I was excited because of directors John Musker and Ron Clements.  During that time in animation now lovingly called “The Disney Renaissance,” Musker and Clements gave us The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and Hercules.  While I’ve mostly enjoyed Disney’s current run of films, I was hoping Musker and Clements first foray into CGI could give things a little more of that Disney Renaissance feel.


On the south Pacific island of Motunui, young Moana is being groomed by her father to some day take over as chief of their tribe.  But, Moana’s heart belongs to the ocean, and she longs to strike out and journey.  There’s a darkness starting to consume the land, started a thousand years ago when the demigod Maui stole the heart of the goddess Te Fiti.  And now, to save her people, Moana must strike out on a quest to find Maui and make him return Te Fiti’s heart.  It’s a quest full of coconut pirates, a journey to the Realm of Monsters, and they must even face off against a lava demon.  Can Moana and Maui survive the journey and save Motunui?

What I Liked

Almost as much as Robin Williams’ Genie, Dwayne Johnson steals the show as Maui.  He just oozes so much bluster and bravado, and who knew the Rock could sing?  Just as scene-stealing is Maui’s tattoo, who occasionally comes to life and serves as Maui’s conscience.  Newcomer Auli’i Cravalho is just as charming as our young heroine Moana.  It’s got a great soundtrack, full of incredibly catchy songs.  And because it’s Disney, you know that the animation is just amazing.

What I Didn’t Like

Pretty much the same complaint I had with Musker and Clements last film, The Princess and the Frog.  The plot is formulaic as heck.  That being said, I love that the formula this time out is more “hero’s journey,” and less “princess in distress.”

Final Verdict

I’ll tell you this, I liked it a lot more than Disney’s last princess tale, Frozen.  Fun and crowd pleasing.

3.5 Nibs

Bonus Materials

I hadn’t heard much about the short film that runs in front of it, Inner Workings.  Kind of a riff on Inside Out, this one shows us a guy’s average day from the perspective of his internal organs, and we see the age old struggle between the head and  heart.  Very fun, 3 Nibs.