Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Rogue one

I have a lot of thoughts about Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. I'm sure I'll have plenty of time to sort them out, as I'm sure it'll find a place into my regular Star Wars viewing. The Force Awakens is still dependent on my enjoyment of Rian Johnson's Episode VIII and Colin Trevorrow's Episode IX to see if I spend any effort at all revisiting it.

First of all, let's be clear, I almost certainly would have enjoyed a movie that centered around Donnie Yen's Chirrut Îmwe and Jiang Wen's Baze Malbus more than I did this movie. That was largely a given, and should not be taken as a particular knock against this movie, but the pairing certainly lived up to my expectations.

I seem overall to like Gareth Edwards movies. I liked both this and Godzilla more than many people did, but I can't help thinking in both cases that there wasn't a movie he was trying to make that I might have liked more. Perhaps I'm reading too much into it.

I'll address the issue I brought up in Star Wars and autistic tendencies. There is nothing in the movie that shows Mads Mikkelsen's Galen Erso furthers or dissuades the notion of his being autistic, leaving me to suspect the additional detail was largely James Luceno's.

The interesting case is K-2SO, who plays more than a little Aspergian. Are we seeing the same traits that the public treats with derision and, at best, condescension in real life humans being trotted out as endearing in fictional characters a lot now? Probably even bringing it up makes me sound more sensitive than I am, but it definitely feels like something that's building, and I believe I'd prefer it not to. Is that the only reason I didn't shine to this character as much as the rest of the world? I don't think so. Frankly, more than that issue, he just seemed forced, at least as much as when the exact same gag was done with the droid AP-5 on Star Wars - Rebels.

Was the earlier released story intended as trial run or was the fancy new Story Group asleep at the wheel there?

To the movie itself, I liked it. I think the Dirty Dozen vibe works surprisingly well overall. And it works best the closer it gets to it. It also falters the most, the more it apes Star Wars, which felt considerably less than The Force Awakens, but it might just be that this one managed to hook me better.

I recently tweeted that Disney seems more committed to ensuring that all Star Wars heroines resemble Marcia Lucas than George had been. I think that was most disappointing here, because Jyn Erso had a lot of potential to forge new ground as a Star Wars heroine, which she falls just short of doing, I think.

To touch on a somewhat minor, arguable spoiler, I had been very impressed with the fact that Jyn and Cassian Andor had a bickering kind of relationship that never seemed to develop into a possible romance, which would be another new step in the series, but I think they finally undid that hope in a single shot. I think it was minor enough that I might be able to pretend that's not what it means in the future, but it was there for everyone who needs it, which is a little disappointing.

The music is disappointing. I thought having different composers for these "Star Wars story" entries would allow for them to set these entries apart in a variety of ways, but Michael Giacchino's score here is just John Williams-lite, rather than attempting anything surprising or unique. I hope they'll broaden that in future entries.

Overall, while I have no doubt that Disney had many hands in this, for a movie that had a much more famous reshooting/rethinking, this feels much more organic than The Force Awakens, so perhaps they are on the right track. I'm not convinced it will become a new favorite, although I don't rule it out completely, I think it will sit comfortably along with The Clone Wars and "Rebels" as worthwhile ancillary materials, even if I don't take a shine to the future sequels.

As a final note, I'll include a link to Roderick Heath's Rogue One review. I've been holding off reading it until I saw the movie, because, while we don't agree on everything, we seem pretty solidly on the same page with Star Wars movies and I didn't want to have his thoughts in my brain going in. We are again on much the same page here and his thoughts are, as always, much better organized and developed than mine, so they are well worth reading.


Roderick Heath said...

Aw, shucks Neil. I like your piece right back. Your comments about K-2SO connects interestingly with my mentioning his similarity to Drax in Guardians of the Galaxy - apparently quite a few people on the Asperger spectrum claimed him as one of their own. I even a great long article to that effect. And I suspect that if I dig hard enough through Tsui Hark's back catalogue, we will find the movie entirely about Imwe and Baze.

Neil Sarver said...


The funny thing is, I had mentioned Drax originally in that paragraph, then the computer got shut off and only the first half of the paragraph was saved. When I went back to it, it felt too long on mine already, and I realized any explanation I tried to make for why Drax connected for me and K-2SO didn't was going to end up rambling longer than I felt it deserved at this point, especially since I had no real conclusion. It's something I still have in mind, though, and could return to.

I knew that many claim Drax, which makes sense. James Gunn said he didn't make that connection on purpose, but seemed genuinely touched at the suggestion. I haven't heard anything about K-2SO yet. I'd definitely be interested in knowing more. I'm prepared to have a continually expanding view of Rogue One, as I spend more time with it.

I can see that about the Tsui Hark catalog. You'll have to let me know if you find anything terribly specific. I actually just grabbed a copy of The Blade on DVD, so I assume the Blu-ray will be announced next month.

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