Tuesday, December 27, 2016

#RECAP Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

I actually went to see Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on Christmas day. And since I finally have access to a (new) computer and the good ol' internet, let's try having a brief review of this film.

Spoiler alert, obviously.

Rogue One tells the story how the Rebel Alliance got their hands on the plans to the Death Star, which showed a huge backdoor vulnerability on the weapon.

Nothing to spoil so far, since this was all alluded to in the original 1977 film's opening crawl right from the start.

So how was the film?

The film turned out... surprisingly good actually!

I honestly haven't checked much reviews on the film so far, no videos, whatsoever. I still haven't much time to check stuff online recently, so I don't even know how fans feel in regards to this film, but I really enjoyed it.

As a long-time Star Wars fan and even just as a scifi/space opera flick.

I would dare say it was even better shot and with some much better action scenes than J.J. Abrams' fairly standard blockbuster epic The Force Awakens.

And I did know the film went through numerous reshoots. Apparently Monsters/Godzilla director Gareth Edwards wanted to make a gritty war documentary set in the Star Wars universe.

But after a careful look from the LucasFilm staff, they allowed him a bigger budget and more time to try making a more coherent narrative and slightly more traditional film.

And it really worked in this film's favor, for once.

The story itself is nothing spectacular when you think about it. But works.

It's about this girl, Jyn Erso. Played by the gorgeous Felicity Jones. Her father's the guy responsible for building the Death Star! An Empire collaborator!

The film was going to feature a bigger presence of the Jedi, her mother was going to be a Jedi.. but ultimately all this was dropped in favor of a more streamlined plot.

She more-or-less joins the Rebels and is forced to join a team on a suicide mission to steal the Death Star plans.

The rest of the crew is pretty standard - you get an assassin, a (Jedi Temple's) monk, an heavy artillery guy, an ex-Empire war Droid and a pilot. They were all pretty fun and memorable, even though not all got much to do on their own.

It looked dirty and gritty. And kind of messy. Closer to A New Hope/Empire Strikes Back Star Wars than the Force Awaken's cleaner/brighter Return of the Jedi/Phantom Menace's Star Wars, in my eyes.

There were a lot of subtle nods and fanservice. And some obligatory audience-pleasing moments.

R2 and C3PO didn't need to be in the film at all, but they were here to assure their traditional presence.

A subtle nod to Obi Wan, which I found pretty cool.

I loved to finally see Darth Vader's castle, a concept that dated back to the original trilogy and tied it to Revenge of the Sith.

Meanwhile some changes for the sake of the spinoff kinda bothered me. I really felt this film lacked a proper SW opening crawl. And the addition of location titles was not that necessary.

The tone of the film was definitively darker than past films.

But some SW films did have a downer-sort of tone (looking at Episode 3 and 5).

This  film's great duo were Donnie Yen's blind "Guardian of the Whills" and the mercenery Baze. I loved these two, they stole every scene they were in!

Alan Tudyk's Marvin-esque droid was great too! Such a different droid from any robot we've had in any past Star Wars, he was hilarious!

The first act was all over the place, jumping without any clear narrative I felt.

But past the mid-point the last act following the climax of the film was absolutely terrific!

Darth Vader's scene at the end of the film was simply A-MAZING!! He finally felt like a proper horror villain, the way he killed anyone in his path while they were running from him in terror! This or something similar should have been in Episode 3!!

The film just felt a lot more fun and inspired than Episode 7, to me! The human face of the Empire, our main villain, was more memorable than whoever that guy was in Force Awakens making a speech on the planet-not-Death Star (not talking about Kylo Ren here).

Even Michael Giacchino's score was a lot more engaging, energetic and memorable than poor ol' John Williams uninspired mess of a score on The Force Awakens... (I'm sorry, I really adore the man but his music on Episode 7 was easily his weakest work in his entire career... Only the Force Awakens' trailer's music was memorable!) I loved Jyn Erso's Hope theme, which was a fun reversion of the Star Wars theme.

All around, Rogue One was a great film, exactly what I expected from these new Star Wars films. "Episode 3.9" in all but title, if you will.

And now I really want to try watching it back to back with A New Hope someday.

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