Friday, February 17, 2017

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

2016, Gareth Edwards (Godzilla) -- cinema

Graig said, "This is the Star Wars movie we have been waiting for since we were kids."

He was right, but boy does that come with some heavy weight expectations. In some way the movie met them, and in some other ways, it disappointed me. I will say one thing -- I think all the disappointment comes from knowing too much. Knowing how much of the cool stuff from the trailers never made it into the final showing, knowing that they went back and re-tooled and re-tooled and re-tooled, knowing that this was a re-tooled movie to begin with, having started with a story framework and built around visual storyboards, not a traditional story & script. Somehow all that led to diminished reactions in actually seeing it.

And yet.... fuck, wow.

Let's get the usual whine out of the way. Once again, a non-3D movie in a good quality theatre looked almost too dark to see. Sure, Star Wars has always had lots of shadowy scenes, but the dull textures of Lah'mu were annoying. After watching an untainted Arrival, I know you can have dull & shadowy and not diminish the screen whatsoever. So, fuck you 3D industry. I hope the death of 3D TV means cinematic 3D is going away soon.

Lah'mu! Despite its dullness, I loved that as an opening, as iconic a beginning as Tattooine ever was. And I applaud whomever decided that Mads Mikkelsen's Galen Erso was not going to be the bad guy, despite his great appeal as a bad guy. The mood of the movie is set in a classic fashion, with stormtroopers and resistance to tyranny.

Rogue One is an ensemble cast, as Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), the daughter of Galen, is tossed together with a bunch of rebels to recover her father's legacy and turn the tide to the rebellion's favour. But the Rebel Alliance we see here is not the shiny, glorious one Luke bumps into a movie later. These guys are uncoordinated, argumentative and guilty of some sins most would accuse only the Empire of committing. Our main Cassian Andor (Diego Luna, which would make a good Star Wars name by itself) is an intelligence officer and assassin when he needs to be. K-2SO is an retooled Imperial droid with more arrogance than C-3PO. General Draven is sending the trio to find her father, but he also gives the order to kill Mads, should it be needed and its implied that it is probably the only choice.

Along the way she picks up a broken Imperial pilot, a nervous twitch of a man who could no longer sit by (in his cockpit) while the Empire ravaged the galaxy. It is he who brings word of Galen's betrayal of the Empire which spurs the hunt. Also along the way she picks up two Jedi temple guards, a pair of world weary soldiers willing to pick up their weapons again for the right cause. And everyone is off to find Mads.

So, the intent of this movie was to be in the Star Wars universe but not be about the main characters, despite the man cameos. Its tone is meant to be different, and while not dark & gritty like many said it was going to be, it definitely felt.... different. And different better than Eps 1 - 3 different bad. To me, a gamer, it felt like an adventure module for a group of teens playing the Star Wars RPG.  The world dances around the plot, actually becoming much more intriguing than the actual story, as it fills out details of what all of us know by heart from Ep 4.

**Aaaaand the inevitable spoilers**

What was surprising the most bit, which I thought would be spoiled long before the movie came out, was that everyone dies.  Everyone. This is a tragic war story where the Tom Hanks character doesn't survive, nor does the lovely femme fatale nor the tortured but redemptive anti-hero. This is the bit where many Bothans died to bring them this information, except.... they weren't Bothans. But a lot, and I mean A LOT of rebels die so the plans of the Death Star can be transmitted to the Rebel Alliance fleet. And then get transferred to a simple disk, to be carried by a cute lil droid.

So, despite the disappointment that so much of the movie was tooled with, by the Producers and by the staff itself, I cannot say I was disappointed with the movie. I am only disappointed I have not seen it half dozen times since.