Monday, December 19, 2016

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story - A Popcorn For One Review (Possible Spoilers)

I might accidentally throw in a SPOILER or two without meaning to, depending on how much attention you've already paid to the trailers, early reviews and rumors that preceded the release of the film.  I'm not going to give away the ending or the fates of the characters, so with that warning we can get down to it.

ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY is the first of the stand alone films that tie into the SW universe, but are not part of the trilogies that make up the Skywalker legacy, if you will.  To be honest, if this film is going to set the pattern for future ones it does seem to help to be somewhat familiar with what is already canon in the world created by George Lucas and others.  This film, especially, assumes you have seen or have some knowledge of the prequels (Revenge of the Seth) in particular. Also, it does set up things we already know from SW: A New Hope, as Rogue One pretty much leads directly into that film.

In the years following events in RotS the Empire has tightened it's grip on just about everything and everyone.  A fledgling rebellion is forming among many worlds and the Emperor desires a weapon that will inspire fear and crush the spirit of those who will not yield.  Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen) was one of the most brilliant engineers working for the Empire until he left with his wife and child to become a farmer.  When the Empire's own scientists are unable to complete work on the great weapon, Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) is sent to retrieve him. When Galen refuses his wife is killed and his daughter, Jyn goes into hiding until rescued by Galen's friend, Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker).  Saw raises Jyn for years until he leaves her to find her own way.  The older Jyn (Felicity Jones) has spent the following years as a petty thief, so when we first see her she is imprisoned by the Empire and being sent to a penal colony.  At this point she is rescued and ends up in the hands of the rebel alliance, who want her assistance in finding her father.

As you can see from the trailers she soon becomes actively involved in the rebellion and eventually takes part in an attempt to retrieve the plans for the Death Star, which may contain information that will aid in its destruction. 

That's if for plot points since I don't want to give away too much, but all the above you pretty much get from the TV spots and trailers already released.  There are a few surprises, including characters we have seen in the prequels and in the original trilogy.  We also finally get an answer to something that has been bothering some fans since the very, first film came out and has not been answered (at least in the films) up until now.  It has actually become something of a joke among even casual folks familiar with the SW story.

I can't say that RO ranks up there with SW IV - VIII, but I enjoyed the film, despite some weaker moments.  As other reviewers have said the early parts of the movie have some wonderful scenes, but there is also a lot of time introducing a pretty large cast and filling us in on things most of already know.  I'm still not sure how I feel about the CGI recreation of some characters, although it was done brilliantly in the case of one of them.  We also get to see Darth Vader in action and it becomes evident why he was so feared in the earlier movies. The final third of the film leads up to the action we have been shown in the trailers and the battles themselves.  This is indeed a 'war movie' taking place in the SW universe, making the fights we have seen in previous films pale in comparison.

I'm giving the movie a solid "B" throughout and ending in a "B+" thanks to the final battle and it's outcome.  Not a perfect film, but any means, but the folks involved have shown that you can continue the SW saga even without the major players we've grown up with.


Just quickly I want to mention that it was nice to see a decent number of trailers before the movie began and these were well chosen.  I've seen more than my share of movie previews that seem ill-fitted for the audiences waiting for a particular feature.  Here, however, the trailers were all for SF and super-hero films which fit in perfectly.  Not sure if what you'll see are different, as I saw the movie in a Regal theater and other chains may play others.

What I did see were:  LOGAN (an X-Men related film and possibly Hugh Jackman's final one as Wolverine. One I want to see.); PASSENGERS (an SF film with Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence); TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT (which interests me as much as the others I have never seen); SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING (the first solo film in the new Tom Holland led franchise of that character. A must in my book.); THE MUMMY (another attempt to create a Universal monster universe, this time with Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe, plus a female mummy. Action looks good, and Cruise can do that well, but the scenes of the mummy remind me too much of the Enchantress character in Suicide Squad so this may continue to bother me.); PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEADMEN TELL NO TALES (to be honest I gave up after the second film and this looks something only a PotC fan would care about);GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, VOL. 2 (the only trailer that got a noticeable and positive reaction from the audience and the theater was almost full. I think everybody in there seemed excited about this movie.)

That does it for me until the next time.

Saturday, December 03, 2016