Rogue One (2016)

Rogue One (2016) movie poster

director Gareth Edwards
viewed: 12/17/2016 at CineArts @ the Empire Theater, SF, CA

Rogue One is the first of a wave of an endless barrage of Star Wars movies, “anthology”, “one-off”, “outside of the main canon.”  And for the most part, it lands solidly on the beachhead.  It’s got a good idea for a story, how the Death Star plans were stolen prior to the original 1977 film.  And it features a multi-ethnic cast of interesting characters, interesting at least in an ensemble picture, played affably by several appealing actors.

For those of whom found The Force Awakens (2015) to be trading too heavily on the original films without really innovating…is this more of the same?  Or a relatively fresh breath of air?

For all the positive, the script and dialogue are often painfully bad.  It’s one thing if George Lucas is cramming stupid words in actors’ mouths.  The committees and hordes of writers on this film should have been able to do better.  Ben Child of The Guardian makes a good case that the film may have gone through some rather extreme re-direction, which could account for some of the writing foibles.  I’ll leave that speculation and quibbling to others.

I was personally very off-put by the CGi reincarnation of Peter Cushing.  His sallow, lank, dead-eyed appearance was really disturbing.  It lacked the nuance and character that Cushing brought in real life and seems another glaring warning from the future that you could be resurrected digitally at any time and besmirch your legacy through no fault of your own.

My kids both liked it.  My daughter more so than my son (as is quite typical these days).

I found the ending interesting, if eventually inevitable.  That (spoiler alert) all of the new characters are dead at the end, yet still tying it decidedly to the original film was a moderately bold move.

Still, I have to say that for all of its short-comings, Lucas’s original films were original films, his vision, a unique and fresh creation.  These new films are corporate products first, playing with ideas and styles and a universe that maybe no longer belongs to Lucas, but will never, ever resultingly be truly fresh or original.  Maybe quite entertaining.  Maybe even good.

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