Friday, December 23, 2016

Tonight's Movie: Rogue One (2016)

ROGUE ONE (2016), also known as ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY, was the third new film I saw in a theater last weekend. It was a great movie weekend which also included MISS SLOANE (2016) and LA LA LAND (2016).

I write this just as the distressing news has broken that Carrie Fisher, beloved to all as Princess Leia, is critically ill following a heart attack during a long-distance flight today. The reports sound quite serious, and my prayers are with her.

Fisher's importance to the STAR WARS saga was brought home anew by ROGUE ONE. While the film was dark but inspiring, telling the story of the Rebels who sacrificed to obtain the critical Death Star plans which are in Princess Leia's hands at the start of STAR WARS (1977), the only part which made me cry was the last scene. In that thrilling final sequence, we're brought full circle to the start of the original film, aka A NEW HOPE. For someone who saw the first film when it came out, it was a profound moment to arrive back at the beginning of it all, forty years on, and the context established by ROGUE ONE now gives the first film considerably more weight.

ROGUE ONE tells the story of Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), whose father (Mads Mikkelson) is forced by Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) to help build the Death Star for Darth Vader (voiced once more by James Earl Jones) and the Empire.

Scenes of the young Jyn hiding as her father is taken away rather called to mind the start of THE SEARCHERS (1956). Years later, when Jyn is a young woman, her father slips out a message with a defecting Empire pilot (Riz Ahmed) that he has hidden a critical flaw in the Death Star, which can destroy the entire thing if it's exploited.

Jyn is recruited by Mon Mothma (Genevieve O'Reilly) and the Rebel Alliance to help find her father; eventually Jyn, Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), and other volunteers take off from the Rebel base on an unauthorized, seemingly impossible mission to obtain the plans, on a ship dubbed "Rogue One."

ROGUE ONE is a strong film with a meaty story which I was still contemplating days later. STAR WARS fans will be satisfied with it from the first moments of "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away..." even if the film is sadly missing the familiar 20th Century-Fox fanfare and CinemaScope extension music, given that it's now a Disney property!

Like THE SOUND OF MUSIC (1965), it's somewhat difficult for me to write objectively about STAR WARS films, due to the great importance they have had in my movie-going life. In fact, I intended to review last year's THE FORCE AWAKENS (2015) after seeing it a second time and still haven't tried to write about that one!

The only real problem with the film, to my mind, is that it was disconcerting that there were significant changes from the trailers seen in months past, including scenes which caused considerable anticipation among fans. Key among the missing moments: Jyn telling Mon Mothma: "This is a rebellion, isn't it? I rebel."

The changes, which some speculate took place after reshoots, seem to have softened Jyn's character, which might not have been a good thing.

Perhaps most surprising to me, which has led to interesting discussions elsewhere online, is that a long-dead actor has a large role in the film. I knew he would be in it and was expecting a couple distant shots for old times' sake. Instead, he was somehow "reanimated" and brought back to life via computer wizardry to give an extended "performance."  While this was done with the cooperation of the actor's estate and admittedly rather added to the character's creepiness, I'm not sure I'm on board with this sort of thing becoming the norm!

There are brief, crowd-pleasing nods to other familiar faces; in addition to characters from the original trilogy, Jimmy Smits briefly reprises his role from more recent films as Bail Organa, adoptive father of Princess Leia.

All in all this is a very good, worthwhile film, although the somber plot is such that I'm not sure it will have the same "rewatch value" as the original trilogy.

ROGUE ONE was directed by Gareth Edwards and filmed by Greig Fraser. It runs 133 minutes.

The good score is by Michael Giacchino (THE INCREDIBLES). It sparingly mixes in some of John Williams' original STAR WARS themes at appropriate moments.

Parental Advisory: ROGUE ONE is rated PG-13 for "extended scenes of sci-fi violence and action." While it's not graphic, this is not a STAR WARS film for young children, who may be disconcerted by the film's final minutes.

Trailers and videos are available at the ROGUE ONE page on the official STAR WARS website.


Blogger DKoren said...

I just saw this again yesterday for the third time. Really love this one for so many reasons, many of them personal and so hard to explain. The first viewing, I hated the music, mostly due to considerable expectations in that realm that just weren't met. The second viewing, I'd gotten over that and the music worked just fine. And the third viewing, I was already growing fond of it.'s somewhat difficult for me to write objectively about STAR WARS films, due to the great importance they have had in my movie-going life. This is SOOOOO true! It's part of why I haven't written about Rogue One myself yet.

I was fascinated that I had the opposite reaction regarding the trailer, however. I was so relieved when that line from it: "This is a rebellion, isn't it? I rebel." was NOT included in the movie, because it had made me roll my eyes and not like her character very much. I was actually not anticipating liking this movie much based on the trailer, and the movie proved me completely wrong on that point. I loved it so much. That last bit on Leia's ship... wow. Just wow. We came home and immediately put the original Star Wars on, because it led us straight back there, but with more weight now as to what toll it took to bring us to that end battle with the Death Star.

Merry merry Christmas, Laura!!!

7:15 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Deb,

I loved reading your comments, especially as I know you feel as strongly about the original series as I do.

If you end up writing about ROGUE ONE I'd love to read it!

Given our similar feelings I was very interested you were glad things were dropped from the trailer! Very interesting.

Merry Christmas!!

Best wishes,

9:30 AM  
Blogger A said...

I enjoy the Star Wars films, including this one, but I was troubled by many things in it, especially the CGI Peter Cushing. And while the estate was o.k. with it, I don't want to be rude, but the estate is run by no one related to him and is led by his secretary who 'was crying when she saw the film". I hate to be pessimistic, but the CGI is creepy and the estate probably got a huge check. And for someone whose entire life is reminding people about him, and while part of it is protecting him, it's also to promote him and bring in cash. I could go into the CGI more, but if anyone is interested, they can check my site

4:48 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older