Saturday, December 17, 2016

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Forced to abandon his daughter because of the crucial role he is going to play in the development of what would be referred to as the Death Star, weapons expert Galen Erso (Mad Mikkelsen) is abducted by the Empire after Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) shoots his wife to death. More than a decade later, his daughter Jyn (Felicity Jones) is in prison for various petty crimes. A deal is brokered when the Rebel Alliance offers her a mission in exchange for her freedom. The agenda is to team up with intelligence officer Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) in tracking her father in hopes of stopping the “planet killer” he devised in being used against them. After narrowly escaping the obliteration of Jedha in a test run of the armament’s might, she gains some important intel on how to destroy the thing, but it would require the full cooperation of the rebellion. However, not all of them are ready to wager their resources on a rebel nobody with no hard evidence in hand. Is this the end of the resistance?

The flow of the story might be difficult to follow if you don’t have enough background information. After all, we all rely on familiar faces to make sense of what’s going on. In Rogue One, there is a noticeable scarcity when it comes to such well-known characters. In fact, it’s only Darth Vader who appears to lessen our confusion, but this does not happen until halfway down the line. We do get another short but sweet cameo towards the end of the film, but this is more of a bonus than a plot device we can truly rely on. And so, how should you go about understanding the events in Rogue One? Just watch it and try to see it as a standalone narrative. After all, a little bit of Jyn’s backstory is presented to make the premise clear.

It’s the diehard fans who will really enjoy this spinoff. Many have already argued that this movie is fan service more than anything else. In the whole chronology of everything Star Wars, Rogue One falls right before the events of the FIRST Star Wars film. Yes, that would be Episode IV – A New Hope, the one where Darth Vader chases Princess Leia to retrieve something important. That important something is the basis of this movie’s main premise, and it’s exactly the very object around which the plot revolves. If you are familiar with the events of the first trilogy, then you would know just how crucial that item is in the resolution of the plot.

The landscapes are so stunning. That planet where they keep the files is an effing beach paradise. Now that’s how you keep your employees motivated. Keep them fascinated with that perfect image of the beach so they can toil without a single complaint. The Star Wars franchise has always been a good treasure trove of travel destinations with potential. For this spinoff, they went totally all out. Even the arid landscape of Jedha is one hell of a visual feast. The marketplace scenes appear to have been filmed at a Moroccan medina. For more doubts, consult Google.

The ensemble of actors must be one of the most diverse they have ever had. At least we won’t be hearing an uproar condemning “Star Wars so white!” The variety of accents can pose a bit of difficulty in understanding the dialogue. Luna has this bad habit of eating his words in many of the scenes. But perhaps this is how they really intended it to be. The galaxy is massive after all, and the chaos in which they all operate also contributes a lot to the confusion. Nevertheless, it’s a perfect group of talented actors that have great collective global appeal. Donnie Yen and Jiang Wen? Hello, huge mainland Chinese box office returns! The casting director did his homework. Someone deserves a bonus.

The droid is probably one of the best additions to the cast. Star Wars robots always end up stealing the show, don’t they? K-2SO, voiced by Alan Tudyk, is perpetually sarcastic and acts like Andor’s bitchy girlfriend. The interaction shared among the three of them never fails to give the predominantly tense ambiance some much needed levity. Perhaps this is the reason why the ending is rather depressing, because you are already rooting for these characters. In the end, it further reinforces the theme of sacrifice, which is fundamental in the Star Wars universe. Overall, this is not just a filler while we wait another year for Episode VIII, but rather a noteworthy addition to the canon in its own right.

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