Thursday, December 15, 2016

Star Wars Rogue One: Quick Review, No Spoilers

It's a fantastic time to be a Star Wars fan. We've got a new movie every year and we are delving deeper into the universe.

Rogue One, the standalone movie that links Episode 3 and 4 between the two trilogies, is one for the fans.

There are plenty of call backs to Episode 4 (bantha blue milk!) and even surprising cameos, many of which should please fans who love the original trilogy.

But I still don't like Jyn Erso.

She's supposed to be badass but I found her bland and cold, save for one passionate plea to the rebel council. Maybe it's Felicity Jones' portrayal, maybe the script could have done better to define her character than just outline her "criminal" side as a list of potential charges: "Forgery of imperial documents. Possession of stolen property. Aggravated assault. Resisting arrest."

I bloody hated her line in the trailers, "This is a Rebellion, isn’t it? I rebel.”

Someone observed that the main hero in Star Wars is never the most interesting; it's usually the side or supporting characters who really fill out the show wonderfully.

Just look at Luke compared to Han, Leia, Chewie, Obiwan, R2D2...

The supporting cast completely outshine Jyn. The movie is tedious when it starts and only picks up momentum when Donnie Yen and Jiang Wen make their entry. Donnie imbues his role with martial arts grace and a mystical monk-like aura. It was even his suggestion to make his Chirrut Îmwe warrior character a blind one, as it would fit well with both the Force and real martial arts (you have to feel with your heart). He also has some of the funniest lines in the show. The other highlight is the comedy droid K-2SO which/who (?) is so much more spunky and likeable. The movie would be dreary without him.

Darth Vader is simply awesome. He truly inspired terror. I don't know who is in that suit, but I'm glad James Earl Jones is still around to do the voice!

Forest Whitaker however, feels underused as Saw Gerrera the extremist rebel. I wish they could have shown more of his relationship with Jyn.

Storywise, Rogue One is fairly focused. We get to see how the rebels steal the plans to the Death Star. I like how it neatly explains why the massive super powerful Death Star has such a weak link enabling its total destruction.

The battle scenes are well-choreographed and it's nail biting to the end. I so loved the imperial walkers; the AT-ACTs are majestic mecha-beasts to behold. And Death Troopers look so cool! :D

The rebels' final dilemma of delivering the Death Star plans seems to hinge on a primitive issue but I guess even in a world where hyperspace jumps and planet-killer battle stations are possible, some things are still too down-to-earth.

As a spin-off, I'd say this was an entertaining movie. I don't know how much the infamous reshoots changed the original take, as some parts feel a little choppy. But I do like how the movie ends. Also, it literally syncs up like 10 minutes before A New Hope, and gets us all excited at the familiar arc the story is about to take.

Would I watch it again? Yes, there's plenty to like and I'll probably find new things to appreciate even in the tedious first half. I'll certainly find more Easter eggs if I look more closely. That's all part of the fun.


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