Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Somewhere there is a coherent version of this particular story, and I suspect it's on the cutting-room floor.
"I'm pretty sure I saw my character go this way..."
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story isn't a mess, exactly -- the plot moves from a to b to c in a fashion anyone can follow. But the central characters, Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) and Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), don't appear to be motivated by anything fiercer than a plodding sense of moral confusion brought on by a case of post-traumatic Star-Wars-disorder.

Lucas is said to have given the film a qualified thumbs-up, and the flick does indeed contain elements that hearken directly to the sort of thing the Old Man joneses over. Roshomon, The Guns of Navarone, The Dirty Dozen and other flashes of cinema's now-distant past are pulled out of the cannister and given a digital gloss (along with two characters -- Tarkin and Young Leia -- vanished to the sands of time (attempting an actual resurrection would have been the less jarring option)).

And more often than not, what works best in the movie are those easily identifiable influences. The two most compelling characters are a blind Jedi priest and his burly, skeptical sidekick.
"I'm envisioning ... a bottle episode!"
Which brings us back to the half-baked Erso and Andor. The script occasionally hints that they've both got a more storied past than their current iterations would suggest, which leads me to suspect Disney's re-shoot orders were focused almost exclusively on Jones' and Luna's characters and interaction.

It's possible the original Erso and Andor were a staggeringly unsympathetic hash -- a vengeance-obsessed harridan paired with a cold-blooded guerrilla terrorist, perhaps. I doubt we'll ever know, since The Rodent's NDAs are the tightest and most punitive on this side of the planet. But it makes for enjoyable speculation in those stretches where the emotional content is entirely MIA.


paul bowman said...

We saw it Saturday evening (after a nice day of inexpensive NYC entertainments, the NYPL Hamilton exhibit and a little Staten Island ferry round trip — and before dinner, rather less inexpensive). We both enjoyed, I the more so probably for having managed to finally squeeze in The Force Awakens the week before, as it seems like essential context. I was struck by the ways the stories seem to be built, for no obvious reason, on the same pattern, and then was more strongly impressed for that with how different the writing seemed to be. (Awakens “retained a lot of the clumsy warmth of the original films,” says a Wired article I caught on checking out the one you link to. That’s aptly put, and sets up the contrast between them pretty well, to my mind.)

Anyway, more to be said, possibly, if I can get to it. Maybe ought to play through some of Awakens again first. (Well, I wouldn’t bother with that except that streaming rental wasn’t an option with Amazon or iTunes, so I own it now.) I’m really the last person who should be talking Star Wars stuff, but I have thoughts anyway — as will surprise no one.

Whisky Prajer said...

A NYE reveler gently rebuffed my snooty attitude toward the film. I also heard a Toronto critic admit she was NOT a Star Wars fan and thus was not looking forward to reviewing the film. But surprise! She LOVED it, really really. I probably need to see it again (and almost certainly will).