Earlier last week I shared my brief thoughts about "Star Wars: Rogue One," let me add more now.
You'd think that based on the social media reaction after the Hollywood premiere it would be a fantastic film. You see, that's where you're dead wrong. Yes, the battle scenes pique your interest, for the most part, but that's just the problem. It's all out war and just war. At some point you just become numb to it all and wonder where has the character development gone. For all the crying and moaning I've heard about "The Force Awakens," at least that film developed its characters well enough for you to actually care about their outcome in its finale. "Rogue One" wants to be an action film, but ends up being stale, non-involving, beautiful to look at mind you, but, nevertheless, inconsequential.
There's also the fact that the inconsistent tone must be due to Tony Gilroy taking over, unofficially, the director's chair for reshoots. There are some moments when the tone and style switches and it does feel like it was directed by a different filmmaker. This is overall just a mess of a film and many of the positive reviews you will read will come from critics, bloggers etc. that bought the hype and, for good reason, were on an endorphin high seeing it in advance of everybody else. That's the Disney brainwash machine for you. Make sure nobody knows anything, the critics see it in advance and the hype is almost too immense to contain. Even film critics can be fooled sometimes. I couldn't find a single negative opinion from the Hollywood premiere, but now that the high has calmed down a bit you are starting to see some people come back down to earth. I was starting to think I'd be the only one disappointed by this film, but clearly there are many more with mixed feelings out there.
Felicity Jones is commendable in the lead role of Jyn, I adore Jones as an actress, she teams up with the rebels to get her dad, a brilliant man being forced against his will, to stop building the "death star," a powerful weapon that can destroy planets. Many of the winks to the earlier films in the franchise are playful and the use of CGI on a few older characters from "A New Hope" is well realized although a bit frosty on the emotional side.
The film is meant as a precursor to the events that start "A New Hope," in which Princess Leia gets her hands on the "Death Star" plans and hides it inside R2D2. That 1977 movie was the beginning of the end for auteur cinema in Hollywood, ever since then the movies have been about making the bigger bigger, the profits more profitable and director's totally at the mercy of the studios. It's a funny thing seeing highly established film critics fawning over the next Star Wars movie when it is well known that this very franchise ruined the high of the maverick 70s era. Of course, it wasn't just Star Wars, but it did have a major impact and so did Michael Cimino whose film "Heaven's Gate" was a colossal flop. We would never see such big-budgeted, creative freedom bestowed on a Hollywood director ever again.
Suffice to say, the real high of the film comes in the final few minutes when everything comes together and "Rogue One" ties up quite cleanly to "A New Hope." In fact, next time I watch the 1977 film, don't know when to tell you the truth, I will most probably watch the final 20 minutes of "Rogue One." It really is well done and respectful of the source material, sadly I was just not as taken by some of the other stuff in the film, but it is somewhat watchable and I can't say I was really bored. I just much prefer the nostalgia-driven emptiness of "The Force Awakens."