December 20, 2016 Leave a comment
I saw Rogue One this past Saturday, during opening weekend. As I reflected on that, it occurred to me that Rogue One is the first Star Wars movie to come out since I have been an adult, that I did not see on opening night. In fact, even though I wasn’t old enough to drive yet, my parents indulged me and took me to see Return of the Jedi on it’s opening night way back in 1983. Up until a week ago, I wasn’t even sure I was going to go see it at all, let alone during opening weekend. I’ve lost much of my interest in the new Disney Star Wars movies after they undid everything Luke, Han, and Leia accomplished with The Force Awakens. These new stories just don’t feel like my Star Wars.
Happily, my initial impressions were very positive. Perhaps it’s because I went in really expecting not to like it at all. Or that this one was set during my favorite part of the Star Wars story: the rebellion. Or that I also went in anticipating the fates of the main characters. If you haven’t seen it, I won’t spoil it here, but suffice to say that I was correct in what happened to each of them and found I didn’t really get attached to any of them. It felt, sounded and looked like the Star Wars universe. The call outs to the original trilogy and to the current cartoon show on Disney 😄 Star Wars: Rebels were wonderful. I found myself laughing in delight and pointing at the screen several times.
I left the theater pronouncing that I really enjoyed and even liked this one. That it made up for my disappointment and dislike of The Force Awakens and all of its depressing storytelling choices. I thought the story of Rogue One was good, and the characters interesting. The special effects were, for the most part, wonderful. The last act was action and triumph and space battles. I even posted to my Facebook wall to let my friends know that this time I wasn’t let down by Disney.
Then I lived with the movie for a few days and now I am conflicted.
Rogue One’ story follows in the tradition of the great hollywood westerns or Shakespeare, but I am one of those ‘not really grown up, grown ups’ who wishes that Star Wars would stay the gee-wiz happy story of my youth. (I know that it probably won’t given the story telling styles and interests of audiences of today.) Had I seen Rogue One as my first introduction to the Star Wars saga, I doubt I’d be the fan I am today. It was the sense of hope and triumph over bad guys in A New Hope (then just Star Wars) that so enchanted me when I was 8 years old in ’77. So, as much as I loved each and every shout out to the original trilogy and was overjoyed at the easter eggs for Star Wars: Rebels (my favorite of the new Star Wars offerings), I was still bummed at the ending. I saw it coming, but I wished I was wrong. If I could change anything, that’s what I’d change, but only for me. I realize that most of the audience loved it and would probably revolt if it were the way I would like it. I also realize that changing it would change the gravity of the story and take away from what occurred.
(now I am reading that when the movie was originally pitched, the ending might have been closer to what I’d have rather seen).
As for some of the special effects, I will use initials here so I don’t spoil anyone. They shouldn’t be hard to crack, and those who can crack them probably have already seen the movie by now. I agree with a number of bloggers that the GMT CGI was a bit much. It stuck out as fake to me every time he was on screen. The reflections in the glass, or some holographic images would have been a better use of the technology. LO was better because she was used sparingly. These two instances are probably the only special effects I’d change, but it was an interesting attempt, so I can forgive it being a technology that’s just not quite there yet.
As I think about the movie and all of the things I love about it, I find that they had nothing to do with this new story or these new characters. All of the things I loved had to do with the easter eggs to A New Hope, and the original universe that George set up for us. Aside from the wonderful K-2SO and Donny Yen‘s character, Chirrut, I didn’t find I cared at all about the new heroes. What I loved about Rogue One was the Star Wars goodness that came from George, not the new stuff from this new director. It was a good movie, even and enjoyable movie. I liked this one but not for the reasons I should.
Slowly, I am starting to accept that no matter where Disney takes the Star Wars universe from here on out, it won’t have “That Thing” that George infused into it (a Forbes writer sort of agrees with me here). It might be good but it won’t really be Star Wars. At least not for me. Maybe that’s ok. I haven’t decided yet.