Friday, January 06, 2017

Rogue One Review

Or bravery for consistency and stupidity for inconsistencies. Spoilers…

I am surprised by this movie, but then it makes sense: They didn’t want to break too much continuity in the Star Wars universe by having heroic characters just disappear into an entire galaxy. Oh wait, they could have just faded into another assignment. So it really was a brave decision to kill all the characters that we got attached to.

Of course we had to have the Disney parent complex, even if her father survives through half of the movie. For some reason, maybe unforeseeable complications, many parents in Disney movies are bumped off rather quickly in the movies. Once we see Jyn and her parents in the opening sequence it is only a matter of time before the parents are no longer alive/around. They even go so far as to kill her mentor, Saw.

Enough teasing Disney for now, just some straight criticism. Although an expected Star Wars standard they skipped the crawl, but without any bad consequences. But then they skip around to 4 different planets within the first 5 or 10 minutes. I was fine, but definitely heard complaints about missing what was going on. (The amount of world building is astounding, though somewhat repetitive.)

Finally we get into the meat of the story on Jedha, a convenient desert planet where they want to talk to a defector about Jyn’s dad. Of course complications ensue and they leave just barely avoiding the land tsunami set off by the Death Star… Which is only using one reactor… Which wasn’t supposed to destroy the planet, but… That much rock and stone in the air has to be energetic enough to make the planet inhospitable, essentially destroying it for all intents and purposes. Makes me wonder why they needed to use all the power and create a new asteroid belt with Alderaan.

They get to another planet and see/kill, or might as well have killed Jyn’s father. During this time we learn that the Jedi who isn’t a Jedi and is blind can take down a tie-fighter with a souped up bowcaster, but later can’t take out more than one stormtrooper at a time, very... convenient.

Of course when it is revealed that there could be a weakness we have to have the heroic divestment, or disenfranchisement by the good-guys-in-charge in order to cobble together a ne’er-do-well group of beings (mostly humans with a token alien) that do bad things for the good of the rebellion. And then we are off to see the wizard, or the library.

And then we have an entire planet protected by a shield. What? And the only thing mentioned, or shown in the shots, is the library tower on a bit of built-up reef. They could have done better with an asteroid or some other inconvenient location. I guess they like their comfort, with only vader’s palace being on what we assume is Mustafar, you know, that lava-y one? Sneak in with commandeered ship and pilot, land, grab costumes from inspectors. The usual.

Then it starts falling apart: Stormtroopers guarding the archives are sent to fight, no thoughts about diversions. The original rebel troop numbers seem a bit inflated as they die, and are more so when a small reinforcement ship disgorges its unit. You can kill or disable a stormtrooper with a stick to a helmet that should be built to withstand some reasonable amount of impact (forgot to mention in Jedha). The rebels come up with a deadly ship ramming technique that is never duplicated during battles where the closely formed Star Destroyers would be devastated. As we discover that planets are more numerous in our universe it seems Disney makes up plenty to just be blown to smithereens.

I think though the best/worst part of the movie is when you realize that the initial deaths of characters that you started to like are all leading up to a complete wipe of the cast. Whoa! Talk about a shock. The best thing, despite me being a romantic, is that the final scene wasn’t the culmination of a romance. At most it was two friends holding one another while they were annihilated. But again, on an ocean world I am pretty sure that it would take thousands of years to naturally recover from a “single reactor” blast and maybe decades using the magic tech in that universe.

One final terrible thing that I need to point out as a software guy: The final sequence where the disabled ship crew writes a disk(?) and runs it down the hall. IF THE CORVETTE IS ATTACHED AND YOU HAVE POWER TO WRITE SOMETHING, JUST TRANSMIT IT TO THE WAITING SHIP! None of this dramatic, last-man-standing sequence where Vader had plenty of time to rip it out of someone’s hand/pocket with the FORCE!! Arghhh. And then the final nail in the coffin is that the corvette with Leia in it was in the battle.

Whew, anywho, did you catch the creepy of Tarkin’s and Leia’s faces? Just barely on this side of Uncanny Valley. R.I.P. Carrie Fisher, but I am glad this is a one-off and not a series where they need to do that again so soon. By the way, how are they going to explain that in VIII? Or did they already do all the shots?

Despite my qualms I actually thought it was a stellar movie, much better than VII. By far it was great to go see with my wife, her family, and my friend. All appreciate Star Wars, but also were instrumental in discussing some of the above points.

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