• Review: Rogue One (2016)

    From Mark R. Leeper@21:1/5 to All on Tue Jan 3 18:10:26 2017
    (a film review by Mark R. Leeper)

    CAPSULE: This is the story of the early days of the
    Rebel Alliance that first appeared in the original
    1977 Star Wars film. A new young hero is introduced,
    Jyn Erso (played by Felicity Jones). The story is
    grim and gritty with a fairly complex plot that ties
    up loose ends from the original series that you most
    likely did not know were loose ends. It is probably
    the best writing of any Star Wars film to date. It
    also has some of the most impressive sky battles to
    date. The film is directed by Gareth Edwards
    (GODZILLA (2014) and MONSTERS (2010)) and written by
    Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy. It answers some of the
    questions about the original plot that you never
    thought to ask. Rating: low +3 (-4 to +4) or 8/10

    George Lucas foresaw the STAR WARS story as two trilogies (or
    sometimes three). For several years it remained two trilogies.
    Now not part of the earlier series comes (for now) two individual
    films set in the same universe and having some minor crossover
    characters. STAR WARS: EPISODE VII--THE FORCE AWAKENS (2015) was
    close enough to the series that it got its own Roman numeral. On
    the other hand the eighth film is more original and has a more
    complex storyline making it probably second only to the 1977 STAR
    WARS as the most startling and original film of the series.

    Galen Erso was a major engineer for the Death Star until he escaped
    the empire's grip. Orson Krennic, the leader of the Death Star
    project finds Erso and drags him back to the project. In the
    process Galen's wife is killed in the struggle but his daughter Jyn
    escapes. How much trouble can a little girl possibly be to the
    Empire? Right! Since the days of Jason and the Argonauts, leaving
    children who have grudges against you has never been the smart

    Flash forward fifteen years. Jyn is bent on revenge and that
    revenge might as well be getting the plans for the Death Star to
    the somewhat chaotic Rebel Alliance. ROGUE ONE runs parallel to
    the story we already know and tells us some of the history of the
    Rebel Alliance.

    The film stars Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso, the daughter of Galen
    Erso (Mads Mikkelsen) one of the engineers who designed the
    Deathstar. Felicity Jones is probably best known as the demure
    Mrs. Stephan Hawking in THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING. Mikkelsen may be
    remembered (among other roles) as Le Chiffre, the villain of CASINO
    ROYALE (2006). We also have Alan Tudyk (who was hilarious in DEATH
    AT A FUNERAL) completely engulfed in the robot K-2SO, where his
    talent for physical comedy goes unseen. (Why is it that when
    somebody does some interesting acting in a serious film, the next
    thing you know they are acting opposite digital effects in an SF or
    fantasy film? I guess being in a special effects film is the new
    form of dramatic success.)

    The new film comes only about a year after we got our last Star
    Wars film, a sign of how the franchise will be paced under the
    ownership of Disney. This film is full of amazing digital effects, particularly in mammoth space battles. But the most startling
    visual effect is quietly having Peter Cushing play about five
    minutes in this film, recreating his role as Grand Moff Tarkin. It
    was impressive for us but effortless for Peter Cushing (we assume)
    since he has been dead for something like 22 years. Somehow it
    always seemed that Christopher Lee would be the first of the pair
    of friends to return from the dead. While it is startling to see
    Cushing alive on the screen again, using a voice that sounded very
    unlike Cushing's compromises the effect. There probably are
    impressionists who could have made Cushing's lines sound like
    Cushing really was speaking. Cushing is beloved of many film fans
    and to see him apparently appearing and speaking in a new film is a jaw-dropping moment. The Star Wars films are always trying show
    off new technology to show the viewer what he has not seen before.

    This is a solid adventure film with very effective land and space
    battles. Have no fear. What humor there is is nowhere near as
    broad as bringing in Jar-Jar Binks or pod races was in previous
    films. By the end of the film we see this story is an attachment
    to the original series that clicks smartly into place. Fans of the
    Star Wars films--and don't be ashamed to admit it if you are one--
    will see a more complete expansion of the mainline story and a lot
    of visual excitement. I rate ROGUE ONE a low +3 on the -4 to +4
    scale or 8/10.

    Film Credits:

    What others are saying: <https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/rogue_one_a_star_wars_story>

    Mark R. Leeper
    Copyright 2017 Mark R. Leeper

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