Friday, December 16, 2016

The Force Nods Off

by SandWyrm


Just got back from seeing Rogue One tonight, and I'm sad to say that it's not nearly as good as it could have been. While it beats any of the Prequels, I'm having a hard time deciding whether it beats out Return of the Jedi or not. Especially when it progresses so slowly that I was actually imagining a much better ending during the actual ending... never a good sign.

The script, to put it bluntly, is an unfocused mess that was obviously rushed out too quickly. We spend way too much time jumping back and forth between half a dozen planets, and talking (talking... talking...) to a lot of characters that the movie didn't need in the first place. In fact, the actors have so much dialog to chew through that about 2/3rds of the scenes sound like they're speed-reading from a teleprompter (especially with Erso's Dad). Two of my 3 kids were nodding off half-way through in boredom.

So many of the characters lack proper emotion, purpose, or logic to their actions. Certain things happen, not because they make any sense, but because they have to in order to move the story along. Other things happen that span multiple planets for no real story reason, except to show off more digital scenery. Oooh! Look! Another Jedi Temple!

The main villain, Krennic, is a whiny douche who is totally overshadowed by two other side-villains that should have been focused on instead. At least Kylo Ren was good for some emo-rage, and General Hux could throw some spittle around. This guy just wilts between odd moments of frustrated shouting.

Oh, and if you were expecting some kind of meaningful link between Ersa and Rey, forget it, because that potential was wasted. Even though Ersa was carrying around a certain special item that could have solidly linked her to a pre-RoTJ Luke in a later movie. The film takes the time to show it and talk about it like it's important, but then never really uses it.

The Empire also needs to find a new data storage vendor, because their data library is ridiculously unusable.

On the positive side, the robot is really funny, and the battles are pretty, even if they're not terribly logical. Vader's 10 minutes of screen time is worth the price of admission all by itself, and some dead/old characters are nicely brought back in their A New Hope form though CGI, and clever re-use of 1970's footage with new voice-overs.

So you know... see it... because it's Star Wars. But don't go out of your way to see it early. Think Thor: The Dark World in terms of expectations.

7 comments:

  1. I liked it. The first act was too quickly edited and darkly shot, but I thought the ending was pretty strong. There were aspects of the technical direction that didn't feel like Star Wars. Not necessarily bad, but you are kind of used to how Star Wars is supposed to look. How generic Hollywood score guy's music cut into the old Williams stuff was pretty harsh for example.

    It's enjoyable. And how this ended raises the stakes for characters in other Star Wars stories. Don't want to spoil too much, but it's not going to end up like Marvel where no on ever dies.

    If you consider this an EU story and compare it to the extant work in the EU. It's pretty darn good as well. Course there's a lot of trash in the EU.

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    Replies
    1. Yeah the music was embarrassingly bad in places. I'm cool with the Irish-y riff on some of the old themes, but it didn't hit the film's emotional beats properly. Which was made worse by how emotionless most of the characters were, despite them all being fine actors.

      As for the EU, I liken it to Marvel's comics. Both cinematic universes have the bonus of being able to pick and choose the best storylines from what has come before and mash them together into something new.

      But I don't feel like they've quite found their feet quite yet with the SWCU. This movie should have tied into the story of the Force Awakens in some meaningful way, but it's strictly a stand-alone movie that extends a few lines of A New Hope's opening crawl into an overly-long film. One that's still basically rehashing stuff we've seen in Star Wars before.

      There were some nice moments, like the Rebels having to do some distasteful things in what they thought to be the service of the greater good. But a more focused movie that really drove that point home would have been much better.

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    2. It does somethings better the The Force Awakens and other things worse. I would say it's on the same caliber as that movie, but for different reasons. TFA has better technical chops and more charming actors, but the story in Rouge One is tighter. Rushed, but tighter. And it cuts a different tone than what I expected from Disney/Lucas Film. I like that they are willing to try things. I really appreciated a Star Wars story that showed the perspective of the normal people. The characters one layer below the "heros" that make the galaxy work.

      The movie hits a few sour beats, but the high notes are really good. I like the scene where all the black ops guys are like, hey lets give this hope thing a shot. The two ex-force temple monk guys were really good. I liked the defected imperial pilot but he didn't really have enough time in the movie. It's just everything in this movie was stuffed in like sardines. There's not enough here for two movies, but an extra 30 minutes for characterization would help. Especially a scene with Forrest Whitaker and young Erso.

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    3. Sorry, but I completely disagree on the story being tighter than TFA. It could have been with another writing pass and some aggressive editing. But right now its a bloated, sloppy mess in terms of the plot line.

      Why did Krennic have to go to ANOTHER planet to meet with Vader for a few minutes? Why wasn't that meeting on the Death Star? Remember that we have so many planets in this movie that they're throwing up planet names on the screen every 5-10 minutes so that we can try and keep up as they ping-pong back and forth.

      Why do we have the rebels launching fighters to far-away fights from their home base not once, but TWICE in the film? Why are they able to have real-time communications with that base from a different planet's ground over the vast distances involved?

      Why spend time having the Rebels bicker about whether to go do something when we know that they'll end up doing it anyway? More wasted screen time that could have been better spent on character development.

      Why was Sol even in the movie to begin with? His motivations and parting actions make zero sense, and all the screen time spent finding and talking to him could have been compressed into a different series of actions easily.

      The temple guys were kind of cool, but completely unneeded. Their screen time could have been better spent elsewhere.

      I get that these characters are more the "Defenders" than the "Avengers", but that doesn't mean we shouldn't have an emotional investment in them, or that the film itself shouldn't be fun. TFA, for all its flaws, is FUN.

      That you say there's enough stuff here for two movies is my entire point. It should have been pared down to one much tighter film.

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    4. As in the plot isn't entirely driven by convenience. It's just bad editing muddles it up in the beginning.

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  2. The character development was dismal.
    Two characters stand on the shore in a teary embrace waiting to be disintegrated, and I couldn't care less.
    Someone shoots a robot and I want to cry.

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