Star Wars: Rogue One.
It was our last movie for 2016.
Unlike the others, I didn't feel the need to be their opening weekend. To be honest, I had read next to nothing on the film so didn't know where it fit into the Star Wars timeline, or if it did. I thought it might be a complete separate storyline.
Then, I saw a picture of Vader and figured it had to be somewhere after Episode III and before the end of Episode VI. But that's all I knew.
To be fair, we had tried to see it the day after xmas, but it was sold out. I had heard this from a number of other people who had tried to see it at different theaters and in different states. I guess no one was going near a store to return anything.
I took it as a good sign when John Williams sat in front of us at the theater.
To be clear, this was John Williams our neighbor, not John Williams the composer. Still - maybe there was kind of message being sent.
Now, I know many people loved Rogue One. I know just as many who thought it to be dreadful. I fall somewhere between, but closer to the 'love' part.
I'll give a brief synopsis, but even if you're planning on seeing it, technically there are not (m)any spoilers if you've ever seen the original Star Wars film and can put 2+2 together.
Visually, there are lots of nods to a New Hope, Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. I would say part are for nostalgia, part to join Rogue One into the first trilogy. They do it somewhat seamlessly and often with no actual recognition or exposition to the fact. It forces you to either go "hey C3PO!" or if you're less savvy, "why the fuck did they just show those two droids?" Ditto with Bali Organa (Jimmy Smits).
They do it to let you know that 'those two droids' will play a bigger part in the "next" installment. It's just not said. It's a reference point.
The CGI? Eh - some was good. Some not. Some just downright fucking creepy.
All the Rebel fleet coming out of hyperspace to a screeching halt looked cheeeeeeesy. It's like the self-braking cars. Sure it's great for you if you're driving, but if the car behind you doesn't have it, you're still gonna have a fucking accident. It's just like someone did a lot of copy / paste on their iMovie program and didn't know when to stop adding Rebel ships.
Peter Cushing - back from the dead by like 30+ years was the creepy one. It looks more stop action than anything that easily flowed. It kept reminding me of Anomalisa. Nothing about it was natural - though in our group, I seemed to be in the minority about it being well done. Such is my life.
CGI'd Leia wasn't much better.
The filmmakers didn't go too over the top with the technology. Maybe it's just my take, but this sequence butts up right against Epsiode IV which has one in the franchise that has the least amount of gadgetry. I think they had to keep basic with basic.
The cast is passable. It is certainly the most diverse cast in the Star Wars franchise. Indian (!), Black, Female, Irish, Hispanic. I don't know if Forest Whitaker was doing a Blue Velvet bit or not. The main female character reminded me of a lesser Olivia d'Abo, but with dark hair.....and less talent.
And I loved the new droid - K-2SO. Finally a sarcastic droid. Not some fussy protocol one or a too cutesy roly one. And who doesn't love Alan Tudyk?
The story was itself was good. It's a nice lead-up to a New Hope and it fills in some gaps between the Clone Wars and Epi IV. Organa even pseudo-mentions Obi Wan serving with him in that war - just at Leia would do hologram-style in the next film.
And while the Rebellion v Empire is about war and always has been, Rouge One seems to take that a little more literally, though can't quite commit to which war they'd like to portray - so they give them all a visual.
You got your 'on the beach' scene for WWII. You have your jumping out of an aircraft into the jungle shots like you're in Vietnam. You have the overheads of islands and sea as if you're in the middle-east. And then last but not least, you have the Samurai films which influenced Lucas in the first place for the first film.
Oh - and the score was bland at best, but John Williams did not write or conduct it either.
Apparently, not everyone thinks you should MST3K a movie while it's going on - like when Ograna said he would head back to Alderaan - and I'm all like, "noooo, don't do it!!!" Or when Organa (again!) said he knows someone who can transport the Death Star's technical specifications and says, "I trust her with my life", (he means Leia, even though he doesn't say it) at least James laughed when I said, "that's what he told Debbie Reynolds too - and how did that work out?!"
Knowing they had limited options with the movie, since they knew the objective and we knew the next link in the chain, they filled in gaps quite effectively. I saw no huge gaps in the story. Sure - there were 1-2 little things that bothered me: a break away from the Rebel Alliance had all of 20 people who went to retrieve the Death Star plans - yet like 60 of them died after getting to that planet. Or after giving a commandeered ship the name "Rogue One", that almost no one recognizes or has heard (or both), suddenly the Rebel Alliance knows of the ship name and uses it freely.
All of those are minor, but my geekiness picks up on them immediately.
Rogue One was a nice diversion. It's not making my top 5 list for 2016. It might not even make my top 10. But we all enjoyed it.
2016 Movie Count / Goal: 25 of 18
Song by: Mika
I've seen all the Star Wars films and haven't actively liked any of them - largely, I confess, because the blatant scientific inaccuracies are just too much to get my head around to enable suspending my disbelief, something which is really a 'sine qua non' pre-requisite to appreciating them. I've pencilled in to see this one day after tomorrow, though completely devoid of any enthusiasm, and your review doesn't alter that, though I do note that you're not entirely 'down' on it. Still, better go, I suppose. However, it making my Top 10 of 2017 is, shall we say, 'unlikely'.
I'm looking forward to seeing it as I love Star Wars flicks. It's one I will actually go to a cinema to see.
All I can say is that it is much better than Episodes 1-3. I did fall asleep midway in, but that is par for the course for me these days. John Williams music is like one of the characters in all of the movies he scores, so this was sadly lacking a major element. Alan Tudyk makes everything he is in better!
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