Sunday, December 18, 2016


          One of the best Star Wars movies yet.
          Basically, this one's Episode 3.5, because it's about Jyn Erso (Jones), the daughter of the creator of the Death Star, and how she needs to help the Rebellion by passing along the secret information of the Death Star's built-in flaw.
          Most of the characters aren't as engaging as most of the ones from the original movies. That said, at least there aren't any Ewoks or Jar Jars. It's not a cutesy movie at all. Far from it. In fact, at times Rogue One is actually kinda Oscar-y. And what the film lacks in terms of characters--Donnie Yen as Chirrut, the blind master swordsman is the coolest--it makes up for in spectacular locales and the overall feel.
          What J.J. Abrams did for Star Trek, Gareth Edwards does for Star Wars. He's a fan of the franchise and it shows.
          Remaining, as ever, purposefully vague to preserve the experience, suffice to say Rogue One does invite discussion on the merits of including the computer-generated version of an actor who died years ago. On the one hand, there's a moral issue. Is it in bad taste to use an artist's likeness when in fact that artist did not perform the role, and doesn't even have a say? To have to ask the question is not a good sign. Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow uses Laurence Olivier's giant head in a way reminiscent of The Wizard of Oz, but the instance here in question goes a good bit further. What's next? Clark Gable in porno? Where does it stop? Moral issues aside, the result simply isn't sufficiently lifelike. It's a good trick, but still stiff and strangely off.
          Episode 7, The Force Awakens, the most recent Star Wars movie before this one, is probably the third best in the series, right after Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back. However, even without the regular gang--Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Chewbacca and pals--and even with too many people speaking in prestige British dialect (Gareth Edwards is from England, but that doesn't mean everybody else has to be), Rogue One ranks about tied with Episode 7. Yep, it's that good.
          May the--ah, you know the rest.

Starring Felicity Jones,
Diego Luna,
Alan Tudyk,
Donnie Yen,
Wen Jiang,
Forest Whitaker,
Mads Mikkelsen
Directed by Gareth Edwards
Written by Chris Weitz, Tony Gilroy, John Knoll, Gary Whitta
Based on characters created by George Lucas
Runtime 134 minutes
Rated PG-13

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