Monday, December 19, 2016

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Rougue One takes place immediately before the first Star Wars movie (A New Hope.) We see a society that still has degenerated under imperial control, yet still has some bits of republic and Jedi remaining. The Republic has for all intents and purposes fallen, yet people still cling to the hope that it is still functioning. The Rebel Alliance is for the most part solidified, yet still has some splinter groups. In this backdrop, we have the valiant quest to uncover the Death Star plans to be able to uncover its weakness and save the galaxy.

The story is fairly exciting and feels like a decent middle ages war movie. However, it tries too hard to not be a "star wars" movie. The opening credits lacked a star wars crawl or anthem. (Even clone wars cartoons had this!) The music as a whole was just a little bit off. You could feel bits of Star Wars motifs, but they didn't seem right. Only the Imperial March and closing credits pieces felt right. This was the first score not made by John Williams, so that may have accounted for some of the differences. However, I think there may have been a further deliberate effort to be "outside the canon". The casting also felt like a blatant attempt to pander to ethnic groups, while still falling victim to stereotypes. (There is an Asian character! However, he is a blind monk who is an expert at martial arts.) There were also cameos from characters in the other movies. R2D2 and C3PO felt fine. Darth Vader felt a little off. Some of the human characters looked pretty good - in spite of being CGI assisted.

The movie ended moments before the start of Episode IV. There is never any doubt that they will succeed. (That would put a sever kink in the Star Wars storyline.) However, there are plenty of suspenseful moments. (Though it may be better if a few of the more manufactured ones were left out.) A new droid provides the best comic lines. The human leads have some complexity to them as they struggle between individual and group needs. However, there are few surefire action figures. We also get a large scale destruction inflicted by the death star. It would be nice to come up with another evil force to fight against, but I'll give this one a pass since the whole point is to still the plans for the weapon. I did like the scene where are heroes get to make peace with each other as they witness the end of the world. Their place in the Star Wars universe is now complete and we can go on to wait for the next rehash. Disney owns Star Wars and they know how to milk things for all they are worth, playing on nostalgia and blowing up lots of things. It can keep you occupied for a bit, but leaves you wanting in the end.

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