Monday, January 2, 2017
Star Wars Re-Watch: Rogue One - a Star Wars Story (2016)
My last movie of the year I knew about well ahead of time. Way back in September or so, SimonUK and I made a pledge to see Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) together, and by November realized that it wasn't going to be us hand-in-hand on opening night as SimonUK actually works at the Alamo Drafthouse, and would be taking orders and whatnot during the first week, more or less non-stop. So, we made a date for New Year's Eve Day.
I knew I'd see this movie again in the theater unless it dropped to Episode I depths (the only Star Wars I've only seen through once is Revenge of the Sith).
I've already written this movie up, so I'll keep my comments to what I noticed on the second screening.
In all honesty, I wasn't exactly bowled over by the characters the first time I saw the movie, including our lead, Jyn Erso. The Force Awakens has a lot of issues (some real, some imagined), but delivering charming, well-defined characters with beat-centric story-arcs was nota problem for that movie. I knew who Poe Dameron was within four lines of dialog. Finn in maybe three. Rey by the time I watched her finishing heating up her insta-bread. Some folks will find fault with this - I absolutely will not. It's how the first trilogy set-up it's characters, and in big, broad space opera, I kinda think this is the ideal.
But Jyn was a bit harder to track and nail down. And not in a particularly engaging way where I wanted to learn more. In fact, I felt her speech during her second visit to Yavin IV felt a bit contrived and motivation-free the first time I saw the movie, but on a second viewing, where I'd heard everything both of her mumblecore father-figures had said and not said to her, and was not distracted with "ooooooo.... pretty visuals! What's that? What's that over there?", it felt like the pieces of the character really did come together much better.
Ideally, I'd still like to see the balance flipped and appreciate the visuals and all that a bit more on the second viewing than the first and catch all the character stuff on the first go-round, but I did feel much better about her arc on Round 2.
Not sure I can say much for everyone else's arcs, but there you have it.
Also, now that I knew I could expect a CGI Peter Cushing and Carrie Fisher, it was a whole lot easier to just accept them. I also think, truthfully, they looked better in 2D than 3D, how I saw them initially. But that may be my eyes and mind playing tricks on me or giving me a rationalization.
Really, as these are movies we're intended to watch on repeat, if take 2 makes it possible to enjoy the characters more, then I'm calling it a small win.
I'll also fess up that I got a little teary when CGI Leia appeared on screen, but it's been that kind of week.
I'd heard about stuff cut into this movie directly from Episode IV, but I still didn't identify it on Round 2. What I did notice was how seamlessly you flow from Rogue One into Episode IV, and that the little data card the Rebellion gets ahold of and hands over to Leia is clearly the same thing she hands to R2 at the beginning of Episode IV. So, details like that are just stunning to see come together.
Further, the two gaffs I thought we noticed weren't really there at all. So, all's well that ends well.
This still isn't my favorite Star Wars film, and I have questions by the truckload about the Imperial Archives located in a tower on the edge of water and requiring a manual system to retrieve data when we've had tape-robots in our own world and retrieval systems that work with a button punch for quite some time, but I'll let that go.
Rogue One is an oddball, interesting installment in the franchise. And unlike Lucas' own prequels, it doesn't stomp all over what came before. It works with them seamlessly, and that fidelity to the originals is going to pay big dividends if Disney can keep it up. It'll certainly mean a lot more trust longterm from their legions of fans who obsess over every frame and character.