Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Star Wars Rogue One

(Movie Review)

* It's a prequel.  And I hate prequels as a general matter of principle.

* Related to the above  point, there was no reason for this movie to exist.  All we needed to know for the first Star Wars is that the plans had been stolen.  No one needed to know exactly how they had been stolen.

* The music was a bit off.  Ideally every Star Wars movie would be scored by John Williams, but if that's not possible, then it would be better to just get a different sound track altogether.  What they do instead--have the first few notes be reminiscent of John Williams, and then pitter off into a flat and uninspired ending--is just annoying.  It makes you think you're going to hear the classic score, only to find out that your ears have just been teased for nothing.

* Although a mostly engaging story, the narrative momentum flagged a bit in the middle.

* I know the whole raison d'etre of the Imperial Stormtroopers is just to get killed really easily by the good guys, but there were scenes in this movie which were pushing things just a little bit too much.

* Awesome acting and directing

* A spectacular cast.  Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) and  Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) were just really really cool.

* The atmosphere in this movie was just really cool.  They did a perfect job of creating a dark and gritty future.  Everything from the over-crowded trading posts, to the scenes on the rainy planet, were just perfect for the atmosphere.

* Some awesome action sequences.

The Review
Put aside, for the moment, the fact that this film did not need to exist.  (We all could have lived full lives and never known how exactly the plans had been stolen.)  This is the best possible movie we could have gotten from this scenario.  The acting was wonderful, the characters were really cool, the action scenes were great, and it was all told with a great sense of atmosphere.  Dare I say it--this is quite possibly the best Star Wars film since the original!
It does, however, lag a bit in the middle.  I think these guys are correct that this movie had ambitions to be "James Bond in Outer Space" by constantly switching from one exotic location to another, but the constant switching in locations makes it difficult to feel like the narrative is building.  Instead, it feels like a bunch of mini-climaxes on different planets until we get to our final big battle.

9 out of 10 Stars.  (In the video review I give it 10 stars, but after the camera turned off, I've since talked myself down to 9.  For all the reasons listed above in the negative section.)  It's a movie severely limited by it's framework, but given the framework that the movie had to work with, I think it does the best possible job that could be expected.

For my other Star Wars reviews, see The Force Awakens, and Revenge of the Sith.

External Links
Why Prequels are the Worst by Amy Woosley
Steve Donoghue was once writing about a complete separate Star Wars property, but I think his line from this book review nicely sums up the problem of all of the prequel films in the Star Wars universe:

Unlike in Star Trek, where Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise can simply have an adventure on some weird planet and then call it a day, or Doctor Who, where the Doctor (any Doctor) can pop into his TARDIS, visit a moment of time in crisis, save the day, then pop back into his TARDIS and disappear, every Star Wars story is a separate single line from William Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
Video Review

Here, and embedded below:

Link of the Day 
Noam Chomsky 2017 - On The Future Of Humanity


Whisky Prajer said...

Funny, I felt the score was also a tease -- I wonder how many other viewers felt that way?

How did you feel about the CGI resurrects? To my eyes they were a peevish distraction. It felt like they were mixing the Saturday morning Clone Wars gang with "real life."

This is another case where I wish there was a novelisation I could read, because I suspect the initial working script was more interesting than the one they finally settled on. There must have been more scenes involving "team building" I would think.

Had a fun night, in the end, but not sure I'm up for a second viewing.

Whisky Prajer said...

Oh, hey. Hardcover, though. That sucks.

Joel Swagman said...

As always thanks for the comment.

Shortly after writing this review, I was watching this youtube video, which was quite critical of Rogue One and the lack of any compelling characters. And I began to wonder if I had been to generous to the movie.

If you can't be bothered to watch all 37 minutes of the Youtube video, I'll sum it up for you. They're largely on the same page your review was.

I really liked Rogue One's characters, but granted that was mostly just because I thought they looked really cool. But perhaps maybe, on second thought, the characterization was a bit lacking.

As for the CG characters--I had read some reviews of this before I even saw the movie, and had been lead to believe it would be even worse than it was. So I guess my reaction was relief that it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.

The technology's not 100% there yet, but it's impressive. Imagine what they'll be able to do in another 10 years!

dpreimer said...

I just heard a Canadian film critic talk about how bowled over she was by this movie, so it could be I simply did not tune in to the actual cues the actors sent out. Could be I'll be seeing this a second time after all...