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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

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JLFM
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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

Postby JLFM » Fri Dec 16, 2016 7:30 am

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is the first "anthology" film of the franchise, designed to offer an avenue for filmmakers to tell other stories within the expansive universe (and cynically, make some more cash after Episode IX finishes its run). Gareth Edwards, after directing a divisive Godzilla flick, was hired to helm the experiment for Disney, working with a script from Tony Gilroy and Chris Weitz (using a story by John Knoll and Gary Whitta). Despite dramatic and highly publicized production difficulties (including extensive re-shoots, significant re-writes, and the replacement of composer Alexandre Desplat in favor of Michael Giacchino), Rogue One has been released to largely positive critical reviews and will have no trouble turning in an enormous profit for Disney. Still, the Star Wars franchise is in a bit of a honeymoon phase following the success of Episode VII: The Force Awakens, and it's very likely that these praises are an inflation of the true consensus, which will likely be made more clear in the coming months (consider the initial reactions for The Phantom Menace and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull). Indeed, Rogue One's production issues are somewhat evident in the final product, and it's a shakier ride than Abrams' smooth operation. Still, Rogue One offers frequently exciting escapism and satisfying world-building and eye candy on as grand a scale the franchise has ever offered.

Taking place between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope (aka episodes III and IV), Rogue One sees a frantic Rebel Alliance hearing of the Empire's newly constructed weapon; the Death Star. In an attempt to intercept the weapon's plans and uncover a potential weakness, the Rebels enlist a woman named Jyn Erso to help them, due to her unlikely connection to those involved with the Death Star. Guiding her is Officer Cassian Andor and his sarcastic droid K-2SO, who are committed to stopping the Empire from succeeding, despite increasingly grim odds of survival.

From a marketing standpoint, Rogue One is a smart film to release after The Force Awakens. Because of the honeymoon phase, the Star Wars franchise is able to take more chances with their movies with less risk of audience upheaval. And with Rogue One being the only anthology film on the docket not to center around pre-existing Star Wars characters, as well as telling a grimmer and somewhat more talky story, the film needs as much built-in support as it can get. Ultimately, it's very interesting to see how much Rogue One manages to separate itself from the other Star Wars movies, with Edwards crafting a less traditional film than he would have otherwise been allowed. Still, there's enough here to connect it to the episodes themselves for Rogue One to fit in snugly within the franchise.

Rogue One is at its best during the action sequences. The space battles in particular that take place in the third act are possibly the best the franchise has ever seen. The visuals are extraordinary, and the sheer scale of it makes it difficult to suppress a child-like grin from tugging at your face. The land-based action material is similarly impressive, offering a somewhat more visceral and grimy take on the Imperials vs. Rebels schism.

As soon as the characters stop to talk, however, the film grinds to a halt. As was criticized with Edwards' Godzilla, the characters here are not particularly interesting, and the script is surprisingly mundane at times. It's very unfortunate considering the amount of time spent dwelling on these new faces, as well as the somewhat large amount of characters to follow, each with names that are extremely difficult to recall. The talented cast really struggles to inject any sort of depth into their roles. Jyn is truly no Rey, and Felicity Jones, despite her best efforts, never manages to be anything more than your traditional "heroic protagonist with a rebellious spirit." Diego Luna, Forest Whitaker, Riz Ahmed, Mads Mikkelsen, Jiang Wen, and (to a lesser extent) Donnie Yen can't seem to act their way out of their underdeveloped characters and it's a disappointing issue. Alan Tudyk as K-2So is the easy stand-out of the Rebels, but his comedic support is somewhat hit-or-miss.

Rogue One takes some interesting chances that pays off, but ultimately, it's at its best when working straight from the Star Wars rule book. The fun designs for characters, ships, and locations, alongside the stellar action and proudly-loud score satisfy enough to please fans and justify a recommendation. But it has some significant narrative issues, and the characters are largely a bore. The film simply doesn't move as well as The Force Awakens, and this might be partly owed to its more weighty story. The fan-service is also, perhaps, less-accomplished than in The Force Awakens - some nods are expertly handled, such as how the movie ultimately ties into A New Hope, but some of the cameo appearances of familiar faces raise contextual questions and feel tacked on. The anthology side of the Star Wars franchise is a fascinating and promising area that will be exciting to explore in future projects. Hopefully, most of the kinks in Rogue One will be properly addressed and the strengths built upon. There's certainly enough glimmers of greatness here to indicate that Disney knows what they're doing, but hopefully audiences will get more than "glimmers" next time.

Score: 7/10

Stewball
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Re: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

Postby Stewball » Sat Dec 17, 2016 3:24 am

Well, we agree on the score.

Pretty typical Star Wars material. I do wonder about those robot camel weapons. They're terrible shots. The ending was a definite step up, however.

BTW, something there's been nagging at my subconscious for decades that just came to the surface: the rebels are fighting against the empire, but for what--a monarchy? Is that OK because they only have a queen and a princess? There must be something I'm missing. 7/10

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Re: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

Postby Stewball » Sat Dec 17, 2016 3:41 am

Howcum Carrie Fisher and Peter Cushing aren't in the credits? Having their likeness in there counts doesn't it? Well, Carrie does get a "Thanks", don't know it that counts though.

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Re: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

Postby bowfinger » Sat Dec 17, 2016 9:06 am

nice review as always as JLFM, thanks for sharing.

JLFM wrote:As soon as the characters stop to talk, however, the film grinds to a halt. As was criticized with Edwards' Godzilla, the characters here are not particularly interesting, and the script is surprisingly mundane at times. It's very unfortunate considering the amount of time spent dwelling on these new faces, as well as the somewhat large amount of characters to follow, each with names that are extremely difficult to recall. The talented cast really struggles to inject any sort of depth into their roles. Jyn is truly no Rey, and Felicity Jones, despite her best efforts, never manages to be anything more than your traditional "heroic protagonist with a rebellious spirit." Diego Luna, Forest Whitaker, Riz Ahmed, Mads Mikkelsen, Jiang Wen, and (to a lesser extent) Donnie Yen can't seem to act their way out of their underdeveloped characters and it's a disappointing issue. Alan Tudyk as K-2So is the easy stand-out of the Rebels, but his comedic support is somewhat hit-or-miss.


Now, this is the part that bugs me, because this is the part that makes a movie work for me. And I have an odd feeling about this, I feel as if they wanted this spinoff to be just that, a spinoff, an addition that only serves the other trilogies, a story that only makes the other movies more memorable, and that it doesn't become a thing on its own. The characters feel like cardboard figures cut out only to serve the action so to speak, you know, kind of like a video game with good cut-scenes. And I feel the movie suffers ultimately because of this.

JLFM
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Re: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

Postby JLFM » Sat Dec 17, 2016 6:28 pm

Stewball wrote:Howcum Carrie Fisher and Peter Cushing aren't in the credits? Having their likeness in there counts doesn't it? Well, Carrie does get a "Thanks", don't know it that counts though.


I don't know if using their likeness constitues a credit. Leia in particular has such a small role, I don't know if she event warranted one anyway.

JLFM
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Re: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

Postby JLFM » Sat Dec 17, 2016 6:30 pm

bowfinger wrote:nice review as always as JLFM, thanks for sharing.

Now, this is the part that bugs me, because this is the part that makes a movie work for me. And I have an odd feeling about this, I feel as if they wanted this spinoff to be just that, a spinoff, an addition that only serves the other trilogies, a story that only makes the other movies more memorable, and that it doesn't become a thing on its own. The characters feel like cardboard figures cut out only to serve the action so to speak, you know, kind of like a video game with good cut-scenes. And I feel the movie suffers ultimately because of this.


Thanks for reading! I completely agree about the characters, their forgettableness has made this movie look less and less favorable in reflection.

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Re: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

Postby livelove » Mon Oct 07, 2019 4:04 am

JLFM wrote:some of the cameo appearances of familiar faces raise contextual questions and feel tacked on.
I must have missed those. Which ones were you thinking of?


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