|Remember those Death Star plans that ended up in R2D2? Those weren't easy to obtain.|
"Be careful not to choke on your aspirations, Director." - Darth Vader
After seeing director Gareth Edwards' latest film and previously seeing his two other theatrical works (Monsters, Godzilla 2014), I think I've gotten a good idea of what he focuses more on in film making, and what he leaves to be desired. Visually his films have hit their marks, but when it comes to an emotional punch, something is lacking. Similar to Zack Snyder (Man of Steel), Edwards has sympathetic characters that somehow end up on the back burner, even when there's no action in their moments. If you think about it, Bryan Cranston's (Breaking Bad) scene-stealing first act in Godzilla, is the only impactful thing going for Edward's films. Everything else is fleeting. He has a wonderful talent and vision, but he better learn to balance things out better before his movies are only regarded as heartless popcorn fare.
If you combined the emotional depth of all three of Edward's films, you'd still only have about half of a movie to connect to. To say that I have a problem with that when it comes to the first theatrical Star Wars spin off Rogue One, is me saying that I am genuinely disappointed. But before I let you know what I detest about the movie, let me first get the good out of the way. This looks like a Star Wars movie, hands down. Once again, the Lucasfilm division of Disney has spent the time (and money) to make Rogue One look like it belongs in the cinematic canon. Hell, so much effort is put towards every little physical detail, the cinematography, and even the nods to the other films and shows, that apparently somebody forgot to develop the characters. Watching this film is like walking into a convention that is designated as Star Wars only. However, something happened to me about half way through; The look lost its appeal for a bit and I found myself getting bored and sleepy. To make sure that it wasn't just my chunky ass trying to hibernate after some ice cream and a bucket of salty popcorn, I returned another day for a second viewing and guess what; I fell asleep again, even after a nap and some coffee. It's like the 3D gimmick had become this movie (wow at first, then forgotten, then wow again).
I'm all for modern movies having a strong female lead, but if they have the charisma of a block of wood, then the attempt at balancing the (force) sexes is a fruitless one. Felicity Jones (The Amazing Spider-Man 2) looks good and has somewhat of a backstory, yet she's bland and lifeless. What the hell is going on!? Her and her costars are supposed be presented to us as the ones who made the ultimate sacrifice to get the Death Star plans and set up the events of the greatest space fantasy of all time. The only problem with that (which hurts my overall score), is that there's no stirring portrayal and/or presentation of these heroes for us to get weepy about. They have a job, they encounter some Imperial entanglements, and they just barely get the job done. Where Suicide Squad tried to over-humanize its leads, Rogue One cuts through its characters' humanity for more exhibition. When Forest Whitaker (Arrival) is criminally underused, Ben Mendelsohn's (The Place Beyond the Pines) out-performed by a CG character, and the robot (Alan Tudyk, I, Robot) has all the good lines and lifelike qualities, then you know something's been mishandled. If this were the famous cast (Hamill, Ford, Fisher) being treated like this now, I could forgive it because of the past films that they already had. This film is all that these Rebels get to leave their mark. But at least Darth Vader (voice of James Earl Jones) finally gets his moment to shine.
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
The Good- K-2SO (Tudyk) steals the show, why put a hood on a blind man?, the highly distracting backgrounds, "You watch yourself!", testing out the Death Star, and Vader unleashes his badassery (my word).
The Bad- Who was that guy who did that thing at that part where the other guys were trying to stop that guy from doing that thing? I almost forgot that Mads Mikkelson (Doctor Strange) was in this.
The Ugly- I'm still trying to figure out why Jyn's (Jones) mother didn't just go to the cave with her.
Rouge One doesn't suck at all (kind of), yet I am compelled to mention its flaws. There was a better movie hidden somewhere that only the trailers mentioned, and the director failed to acknowledge. Instead, he thought it was a good idea for more explosions. Where have I seen that mistake made before? Think of this film as a half-assed, gorgeous looking, two hour set up to a forty-five second Darth Vader rampage. Trust me though, it's worth it.
Rating- 6.5 out of 10
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
Rogue One (original title)
PG-13 | 2h 13min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi | 16 December 2016 (USA)
The daughter of an Imperial scientist joins the Rebel Alliance in a risky move to steal the Death Star plans.
Director: Gareth Edwards
Writers: Chris Weitz (screenplay by), Tony Gilroy (screenplay by)
Stars: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Alan Tudyk