Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Rogue One Bullet Thoughts

I saw Rogue One yesterday afternoon, a film that has been dividing my friends between "very good" and "not good at all." I think it was actually quite good. A very different, darker vibe than any other Star Wars movie, but it did its job well. Below are scattered thoughts -- some spoilers.

  • As a prequel, this is clearly far superior than Episodes I through III. That's not too high a bar, of course, but it's good to get out of the way.
  • The most important question for any Star Wars movie -- but particularly one titled "Rogue One" -- is whether Wedge Antilles was in it. And the answer appears to be yes ... sort of. Those weak in the force might think that the reference to "Captain Antilles" heard in the movie is a callout, but obviously that's the (no relation) Antilles who captained the Tantive IV (the rebel corvette captured by Darth Vader at the start of A New Hope). But reportedly there was an audio-only cameo by the actor who voiced Wedge in the first movie. Though (I'm embarrassed to admit this) I don't know what the line was.
  • A lot of people complained that the characters in Rogue One were not sufficiently fleshed out such that we came to care about them. I get that criticism, but in a weird way I think that was sort of effective. This was a movie about pretty everyday people fighting for the rebellion. Nobody was the mythical child of destiny, or even particularly special, and so (with the semi-exception of the lead) nobody had some grandiose backstory or sweeping character arc. The movie didn't give the sense that the particular characters it focused on were cosmically more important than the "NPC" characters that surrounded them, and I found that a surprisingly impactful choice -- particularly in a movie where everyone is basically doomed at the end.
  • On that same note, many "war" movies treat all "NPC" soldiers as basically robots. They die immediately in one hit (unlike speaking characters, who survive long enough to be cradled and get a few haltering last words). They never care about their fellows being killed or maimed around them. One thing I like about Rogue One is that it was at least better on that score, and that reinforced the fundamental "equality" between the main characters and the extras.
  • This is a grim, grim movie. More or less everyone dies at the end. That makes sense given where A New Hope picks up -- the Rebel Alliance is in dire straits there, so something must have happened to devastate its fleet and (more directly) explain why none of these people are seen in the following movies -- but tonally it is very different even from The Empire Strikes Back (the other "dark" movie).
  • Forest Whitaker's performance as Saw Gerrera (who, for the entire movie, I thought was "Sol Guerrera") was bone-achingly bad.
  • Oh, one more: With the addition of "mountains" and "tropical atoll", has the Star Wars franchise now covered all major topographies? There's desert (Tatooine), tundra (Hoth), forest (Endor), swamp (Dagobah) ... have we done "rolling prairie"? Is Naboo a prairie? I'm trying my best not to remember.

1 comment:

miacane said...

Wait, it WASN'T Sol? That's the biggest spoiler for me.