Friday, December 16, 2016

Rogue One - Review

Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) is rescued for an Imperial prison planet in order to be a tool for the latest plan devised by the Rebel Alliance. She's to lead officer/assassin Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) and his reprogrammed snarky android K-2SO (voiced by Alan Tudyk) to her former father figure turned violent extremist Saw Gerrera (Forrest Whitaker), who holds the knowledge to the Galactic Empire's newest pet project and the location of its creator, Jyn's father Galen (Mads Mikkelsen). ROGUE ONE begins as a satisfactory sci-fi romp only to ramp up considerable and deliver a thrilling final act. For the first time in a very long time, not since RETURN OF THE JEDI in fact, we finally get to see the real horrors of war in the STAR WARS realm. The pathetic prequels were slathered with the toyetic aspirations of George Lucas, filled with lifeless CGI creations pew-pewing each other on galactic battlefields so as to sell more action figures and video games. THE FORCE AWAKENS was more focused on recapturing the spirit of the original film, peppering in a few flakes of spaceship exchanges among its healthy broth of bickering saboteurs engaging in adventurous trips around the galaxy. This film, on the other hand, really gets into the down and dirty aspects of the war between the Rebels and the Empire. People die, scream out in pain, suffer horrible injuries, mourn over the fallen amid gunfire, betray others and ultimately sacrifice themselves to help out their friends or for the greater good of their blood-soaked cause. Even up until its final moments, soldiers are risking it all simply for "hope". The story may be dark but not everything in the script is pure gold. Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy do not bequeath much characterization to the main cast, even including main heroine Jyn who's a bit flat when she's not brooding or crying for papa. Riz Ahmed's Imperial turncoat and Donnie Yen's blind preacher of the Force are the sole exceptions, each possessing a great character arc and often stealing the show from the supposed stars of the pic. Further hampering matters, most likely due to the corporate mandate of Disney, director Gareth Edwards doesn't get to spin a lot of personal artistic touches to the film. However, he does get a few chances to shine, most of which involve some fantastic uses of playing with shadows. I could pursue my critical analysis and delve into the random fan service, the CGI surprises, or the awesomeness that is the "Hammerhead" scene but I wish to only end this review by tip-toeing around the film's coda. It is both one of the best and worst endings of the year. I was floored its audacity and its willingness to show that war marches on and heavy losses come and go. But the audience and myself were also left utterly perplexed by the sudden slam on the brakes and quick cut to the traditional ending credits. Nevertheless, ROGUE ONE is a worthy blockbuster and a nice reminder to the kiddies that war is hell.


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