Monday, January 30, 2017

Star Wars: A Rogue Review

The first in a series of “standalone” movies set in the Star Wars Universe, Rogue One stands as a sign of great things to come. I put standalone in quotes, because these movies are part of a larger overall story, they are standalone in the same way that the solo Marvel films are standalone in comparison to an Avengers film, although with Captain America: Civil War that line is becoming more blurred, which isn’t a bad thing.

Rogue One while not perfect served as merely a proof of concept for Disney/Lucasfilm, that they could tell a story without a character named Skywalker or Solo and have it be successful as of today, the film has made $520 million domestically and $1.030 billion worldwide. Rogue One was arguably a safe story in that it was one Disney/Lucasfilm felt comfortable enough to tell because it directly leads into the events of the original 1977 Star Wars, later renamed Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. Now that they know they can tell these “standalone” stories and make a good profit, I would expect to see more stories that are more removed from the Saga films, the ones that begin with Episode [Insert Roman Numeral].

In fact, while watching some behind the scenes material to the third Hobbit film on Blu-ray, I thought it would be awesome to see one of these films directed by Sir Peter Jackson set during a time before the lightsaber, when Jedi and Sith used more conventional medieval Earth-like swords, like what was presented in the Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi series of novels by Del Rey that are now part of the Star Wars Legends canon.

Now as to Rogue One, I thought that director, Gareth Edwards, in the time he was permitted managed to get the audience to care about the cast of characters, who are completely new to the audience. I was hoping at least one of them one make it out alive. I thought all the characters were well developed given the time the director had to do so, although if this had been a Netflix series as opposed to a film it would have been the better for it. Felicity Jones’ Jyn Erso, Donnie Yen’s Chirrut Îmwe and of course Alan Tudyk’s K-2SO stole the scenes they were in, although in K-2SO’s case by tradition he had to be the comedic robot just as the saga films have the Abbott & Costello-style duo of C3-PO & R2-D2, Rogue One has K-2SO.

Now for the Tarkin thing, I thought the CGI was as good as they were ever going to get. As for those saying he “lacked emotion” in the eyes, go back and watch the original Star Wars, Tarkin is a cold, calculating, manipulative person with a cold dead stare. Honestly, I think he’s more a robot than Vader, who is easily & visibly ten times more emotional than Tarkin and that’s without seeing his face!

Now, the problems I have are mixed between being major and minor issues. A major issue the Death Troopers and the Shore Troopers, both were new and original classes of Storm Trooper designed for the film, yet neither were utilized well. The Death Troopers while certainly impressive to look at, with exception to killing Jyn’s mother, had no real role to play other than standing around Director Krennic. As for the Shore Troopers, if you are not sure who I’m talking about don’t worry, if you blinked at any time during the Battle of Skarif you probably missed them. Which is my problem, why go through the effort of designing an entirely new class of Storm Trooper if you’re going to limit them to about 5 seconds of screen time. In fact, the only significant part one of them played was throwing a grenade into the ship that Imperial defector turned Rebel pilot, Bodhi Rook was in during the climax of the film.

As for Chirrut Îmwe, I came away with the sense that he was Force-sensitive even though not technically a Jedi, I mean I know Storm Troopers are historically bad shots but missing him up until after the point he accomplishes what he set out to do is a bit of a stretch, unless of course the Force was diverting the blasts around him.

Finally, that Vader scene at the end really plays into Luke’s belief that there is still good in him, by which I mean, when Vader confronts Obi-Wan in A New Hope in comparison to the scene in Rogue One he is clearly holding back because deep down a part of him still sees Obi-Wan as a mentor and a friend, similarly when he confronts Luke in The Empire Strikes Back, Vader holds back because he knows Luke is his son. Unfortunately for the Rebel soldiers Vader holds no such emotional attachment to them.

Overall, Rogue One was a great film with a great cast and I look forward to the coming Han Solo film.

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