Thoughts on Rogue One28 December, 2016
Finally got to see Rogue One today, which was a little bittersweet following yesterday’s new of Carrie Fisher’s death. May the Force be with you, always, Carrie.
Firstly, the spoiler free section: I found Rogue One highly engaging and it served as a solid bridge from the end of the prequel trilogy to the situation at the beginning of A New Hope (or Star Wars as I still think of it). It definitely shades into war movie and is easily the darkest of all of the movies.
The special effects are magnificent and the action scenes flow nicely. But action does dominate to the expense of character development, Jyn Erso (played by Felicity Jones) is the only one who gets close to a character arc. Overall, the cast is solid and we see many cameos of characters from the earlier films, neatly folding Rogue One into its place in continuity. If you are even a casual fan of the series, it is worth seeing.
Some more complex, and spoilish thoughts, follow:
The implied complexity of the Rebel Alliance, this movie really showed that the rebels were an alliance of various factions and interested only united in the opposition the the Empire with the implication that some parts (and former parts) had drifted near or even into outright terrorism against the Empire. That very much suited my more nuanced understanding of politics that comes with age (and a history degree) and only make me appreciate the whole enterprise more.
Alan Tudyk’s K-2S0 was a much needed bit of levity, but raises (to me) further questions of droid consciousness and free will (see my early thoughts on Droids here). The scene where K2 is almost vampirically raiding the memory of another droid was particularly disturbing. Also, this movie was much more toyetic than TFA, lots of new droids, TIE fighter subtypes and shuttle variants, and even new Rebel ships, X-Wing players must be over joyed (or worried about the expense of getting all of those new ships).
Donnie Yen’s Chirrut Îmwe, and Jiang Wen’s Baze Malbus, had nice roles that I would have liked to see expanded, they had a really good player character vibe to them and really good chemistry (and not nerly enough screen time). While Riz Ahmed’s Bodhi Rook did some good acting as first someone just trying to do the right thing and then becoming fully committed to that task in the end.
However, as Cassian Andor (played by Diego Luna) was not a character I ever liked, though I came close when he rounded up his group of fellow hard men who had sacrificed their morality for the Rebellion and needed it to mean something, even if they would have to die to redeem the Rebellion (and themselves).
The digital effects to recreate Peter Cushing’s Grand Moff Tarkan were almost perfect, the voice was, the face, not quite. Also, the Grand Moff was a consummate political general in a New Hope, here he was used to snip off inconvenient plot threads in brutal fashion. So, the technology of his return was impressive, his role in the plot less so.
Overall, a better movie to me that TFA, though rather grim in the final analysis and the final scene with Princess Leia almost brought a tear to my eye (and probably would have if it had not been so telegraphed so I could steel myself).