Friday, December 16, 2016

Rogue One: Initial Thoughts

No, it's not the best Star Wars movie since Empire Strikes Back. But it's pretty darn close and pretty darn good.

Rogue One feels manufactured, even if it was manufactured with love. I'm sure I'll warm to it more on repeat viewings. I walked out of Force Awakens the first time with frustrations (though fewer than I have with Rogue One), and I freakin' adore that movie now, warts and all.

My time is limited due to the holiday season, so I'll be jotting down thoughts over the weekend about Rogue One. Full spoilers ahead - so come back after you've seen the movie. And remember, there's no right way to enjoy Star Wars. These are my thoughts and they're gonna change with time. But here's where I am now with this messy but riveting entry in the series. Please feel free to leave a comment or engage with me on Twitter.

* Holy shit, the ending. They went for it. I'm curious what the backlash from parents with younger kids will be. Rogue One may join the infamous list of films - like Dune and Batman Returns -  aimed at kids that are so not for kids. I'm not letting my young son anywhere near this movie for a long time. More thoughts on the ending to come.

* Well, one more thought right now. On the whole, it's the right ending.

* Although offering no surprises, the opening sequence - where a young Jyn Erso is orphaned - is still tense. A real rough opening. From the start, this film is visually and tonally different. The writing also differs from previous installments. Not bad different - but these characters and their voices didn't come from George Lucas or Lawrence Kasdan. The dialogue is punchy and lean. There's little of the bantering we expect from Star Wars. And it works.

* These characters truly feel new, but they still fit comfortably into the Star Wars universe.

* It's amazing how little footage from the teaser trailer (above) is in the final movie.

* Not sure we'll ever know how the story changed with reshoots, but I'm guessing the focus was on Jyn's backstory and character arc. In the movie we got, she is a criminal - but she's just trying to get by. My guess is she was a harder character at the start, much more morally complex. The issue probably wasn't about softening her but making sure she was a counterpoint to Cassian Andor, who does the Rebellion's dirty work.

* The teaser trailer plays like she's a hostage of the Rebellion. Was the relationship with her father not clear at first and they saw her as a potential threat? If that was the case, I can see audiences - especially casual viewers - having mixed feelings about the Rebellion, especially if this scene still took place after Cassian shooting a fellow conspirator in the back.

* I bet Jyn originally left Saw Gerrera, not the other way. The idea of her being orphaned twice works, but it feels a little... Disney. Lucasfilm most likely wanted us to think the choices she made were the only choices available to her.

* Oh man, we're gonna get to Saw Gerrera. By far the messiest part of the movie. More tomorrow.

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