ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS Story – Review


“What’s surprising is not that ROGUE ON: A STAR WARS Story has earned almost $850 million worldwide, but how astoundingly mediocre the movie actually is.”

The biggest problem with Gareth EdwardsROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS Story is that it’s two movies.

For the bulk of it’s time it’s a war movie, and a not very good one. The characters are characters–for the most part–only in the sense that they have names and are played by actors.

It never once invests in the development necessary to make make our heroes anything approaching  empathetic, never mind sympathetic–it goes without having saying that the villains, particularly Director Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) fare significantly better though I suspect few people go to a Star Wars movie exclusively for the villains.

And that’s to be expected, though more is required of the heroes; we need to not only sympathize with their plight, but have to actively want them to achieve their goal.

And that doesn’t happen in Rogue One and seeing that it’s a prequel of sorts to Star Wars: A New Hope, you know that they succeed in stealing the plans for the Death Star.

It’s only how that manages to come about that matters.

And the how is what the brunt of what the movie gets wrong.

Which reminds me, why was Gareth Edwards hired to direct? As you could probably tell from Monsters, as well as Godzilla, he doesn’t exactly excel in developing human relationships on screen, which is what Rogue One needed. I don’t care about virtually everyone dying at the end, though what I do care about is not caring about everyone dying at the end.

And the movie also–in a very curious fashion–undermines a small but important sequence from The Empire Strikes Back (which I go more in detail about in my video review).

As much criticism as the three George Lucas-directed sequels received–deservedly so for the most part–at least they felt like Star Wars movies (not very good Star Wars movies, but Star Wars movies nonetheless).

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story?  Not so much.

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Rogue One Review Capsule

I’m in the process of editing my review of ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS Story so check back for the full version!

Though I have to say that I really did not like this movie.  Say what you will about the prequels, at least they felt like Star Wars movies.

Rogue One?  Maybe the last 35-40 minutes felt like a Star Wars movie though the bulk of it felt like the worse kind of war movie, namely the type where you don’t give a damn about anyone. 

Such a lack of character development you can get away with in a three or four minute short, though when you’re talking about a movie that runs almost two hours and a half it’s near inexcusable.  

I honestly can’t tell if it’s the writing or the direction that’s at fault, but dealing with any sort of human emotion isn’t exactly director Gareth Edwards‘ strong suit (something’s that’s fairly obvious if you have seen either Monsters or Godzilla, though to be fair Rogue One makes Monsters feel almost pornographic in its displays of human emotion and relationships). 

Clearly people are seeing the movie, but I get the feeling that if there weren’t the connection to Star Wars, most wouldn’t give a damn. 

My Two Cents – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Screenshot 2016-07-16 12.57.37

Let me cut to the chase.  I am not particularly enamored of Gareth Edwards as a director.

The problems start with his filmography. First you have Monsters, a movie where the aforementioned monsters felt like an afterthought which shouldn’t be the case with a movie named Monsters. His followup, Legendary’s Godzilla suffered a similar fate, with  Godzilla not showing up till the latter third of the movie.

Is Edwards a good fit for a Star Wars movie? Based on what I have seen so far, I don’t think so. There are rumors that a large section of the movie had to be reshot due to the overly pessimistic tone the director struck.

That being said, reshoots aren’t unusual for a movie of this nature, so the truth probably lies somewhere between the two extremes.

What I can say is that what I have so far heard about Rogue One: A Star Wars Story makes me more interested in seeing it since the three movies that made up the original trilogy.

And for me, that means a lot.

Besides, I really, really, REALLY like the poster.

Godzilla: Resurgence – Teaser Trailer

Having seen 2014’s Godzilla–which as far as I am concerned will go down in history as the first Godzilla film where Godzilla was almost a tertiary character in its own movie–I was hoping that Toho Co. Ltd, the original creators of the radioactive-firebreathing lizard, would do a much better job (and the less I say about the 1998 pseudo-Godzilla movie, the better)

Yet having seen the teaser trailer for their upcoming Godzilla: Resurgence,   I am a bit concerned.

The trailer features a lot of people running away from something–a la Cloverfield–which the camera never shows.  Things end with Godzilla’s distinctive roar.

What concerns me is that Godzilla movies are never about the civilians.  In fact, their entire purpose is primarily to avoid being trampled by the monster, though it’s never about them.

Tomorrow is supposed to be the premiere of the new trailer for X-Men: Apocalypse, where I’ll try to avoid comparing how Apocalypse looks to a Power Ranger villain (though probably not very hard).

Review – Avengers: Age of Ultron

The Avengers: Age Of Ultron International poster

“For me, one of the signs of a good movie is that it rewards repeat viewing.  Avengers: Age of Ulton fits the bill.”  

I’ve already reviewed Avengers: Age of Ultron here for Moviepilot, though I tend to be easily overwhelmed by spectacle–which this movie has in spades–so I saw it a second time, to better digest what was going on.

This time I saw the 2D version at the legendary Uptown theater in Washington, DC (quite possibly the best movie house in the city).

What I noticed is that Avengers: Age of Ultron, on the surface, is a battle between the Avengers and Ultron (motion-captured and voiced by James Spader), a homicidal robot who believes that the only way to save the human race is to force it to evolve, which sounds interesting, till you figure out he intends to kill the bulk of us to bring it about.

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The (Un)necessary Remake Dept: DeepStar Six

No, DeepStar Six, isn’t the latest Ultramarionation feature from Jamie Anderson, but a undersea horror movie from Sean Cunningham (Friday the 13th) that was followed in quick succession by George P. Cosmatos’ Leviathan, and culminated five months later in James Cameron’s far superior The Abyss.

DeepStar Six revolves around a US Navy mission to place an undersea missile sled on the ocean floor; an action that only makes sense when you take into account that the United States was approaching the end of the Cold War with the Soviet Union.

Dr. Van Gelder (Marius Weyers) is there to ensure that the missile platform is built before they leave the base, the time for which is rapidly approaching.

Unfortunately, the project is behind schedule, so he’s doesn’t have time to putter about.

The area where he choose to place the sled is suspected of having caverns underneath it, which Scarpelli (Nia Peoples) wants to take time to explore, though Dr. Gelder isn’t interested.  Sure, properly surveying the area could have saved them quite a bit of trouble, but what specialist worth their salt let’s safety concerns trump completing a project on time.

Which shouldn’t be a surprise considering one of their own crew, Snyder (Miguel Ferrer, who if James Spader was unavailable to play Ultron in the upcoming The Avengers: Age of Ultron, should have been on speed dial) is fraying at the seams and should have been evacuated to the surface weeks ago.

And speaking of Ferrer, he’s easily the most convincing character in the entire movie which is why it’s such a pity that he so explosively loses it toward the end.

Another awesome addition to the movie is someone whom you never see, but who’s presence is felt throughout the entire movie, and that’s the awesome score by Harry Manfredini (who’s theme for War Of The Worlds: The Second Invasion has to be one of the best television themes EVER.

Seriously.  It’s that good.

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‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’ Extended TV Spot

This new trailer for James Gunn’s Guardians Of The Galaxy popped up on the Interwebs yesterday, and it significantly expands the scale of the universe–literally and figuratively–that the Guardians call their sandbox.  It seems a conventional summer blockbuster in many ways.

And in other ways, not so much.  Something important about is is that–if Marvel Studios current roster is based on B-list characters, then what are the Guardians Of The Galaxy?  So they’re an unknown quantity, combined with the fact that they’re surrounded by a rather odd-looking movie, and you get…

I have no idea, though combine that with two trailers that have either mistakes or some odd creative choices and things get really interesting.

I have no idea what's going on here!

I have no idea what’s going on here!

And these errors (if that’s what they are) have been shared by both trailers released for the movie, which is why I wonder if they’re mistakes at all.

Let’s start at the beginning with the first trailer.

Notice the sphere (which is probably one of the Infinity Stones) and its position, floating above a circular platform.

 

Chris Pratt

 

The next scene has Star Lord (Chris Pratt) staring intently it.

Chris

 

And the third scene has him picking it up.

Chris Pratt's hand

 

My question is:  How did the sphere go from hovering almost a foot above the platform, to resting on it?  I can mentally fill in the blanks (maybe the sphere was contained in some sort of stasis field, and when Star Lord reached for it, it collapsed, causing the Infinity Stone to fall) though that’s me guessing what had happened, as opposed to actually seeing what happened.

Which leads me to two conclusions:  The first is that the person whomever cut the trailer (for some reason) didn’t want to include the footage.  It’s possible that the sphere falling has some relevance that needs to be kept out of trailers.  I don’t believe it, but it’s possible.

The second is that maybe someone forgot to include it, which is also possible, though less so.

In the most recent trailer, at around the 0:14 mark, (when you see Rocket piloting a ship through what appears to be an explosion) there’s a note of music that sounds like Hooked On A Feeling when the song itself isn’t actually in the trailer.

Neither error–if that’s what they are–is earth-shatteringly wrong, though they are odd.

Which reminds me.  Guardians Of The Galaxy is arguably the riskiest film so far from Marvel Studios.  It goes without saying that I intend to see it, but if it comes off too weird, will anyone else?

Typically, when you’re dealing with an expensive feature, they’re usually based upon known quantities, like Star Trek, or Godzilla.  The point being, you have a built-in audience for what you’re selling.

And while being a known quantity doesn’t guarantee box office success, it certainly doesn’t hurt.

That being said, the record of Marvel Studios has been nothing short of remarkable, so I wouldn’t bet against them.