Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Rogue One: Brief Review with a Few Anti-Spoilers.

Rogue One, for my money, is the best film in the Star Wars series since Empire Strikes Back. It gets off to a slow start but once it picks up speed it pays off big time. You should go see it.

So, there's the review part of this post out of the way. Now for a few anti-spoilers.

For those few of you who are unaware of the definition of the term anti-spoiler (which I just now made up) they are like spoilers only they work the other way around. A "spoiler" is a piece of premature information which damages ones enjoyment of a film by giving away some plot twist, surprise, outcome, or other element where a large part of the pleasure of the film is in seeing how the information is revealed -- learning, for instance, that the "Yellow Rose of Texas" is the name of John Wayne's sled -- things like that. So, bearing that in mind, an anti-spoiler is a piece of information given ahead of time that prevents some annoying part of a film from bothering you because you already know about it and have gotten over it ahead of time.

A few Rogue One Anti-Spoilers:

1) The first third of the film is a bit tedious. The characters flit from planet to planet never staying long enough to establish much of a sense of locale. The best way to enjoy this part is to admire the astronomical art. There is one sequence where someone is approaching some planet or other -- I don't remember and it doesn't matter -- but the planet has rings like Saturn and you get to see the spaceship fly past the edge of the shadow that the planet casts on the rings and then past the shadow that the rings cast on the planet. It's pretty cool-looking and you shouldn't let it bother you that you've sort of lost track of who is in the space ship or what they plan to do on the planet. Just enjoy the eye candy -- the movie will start in a few minutes.

2) Please don't listen to anything that the writers say about political messages hidden in the film. There is a long-standing tradition in the Star Wars franchise for the writers/directors/filmmakers to imagine that they are hiding secret political zingers in the films -- starting with the first film which Lucas thought was some sort of anti-Vietnamese war statement. This allows them to think of themselves as politically active while making bang-up movies. Any political content can and should be ignored. In the case of Rogue One the writers are proud of making all of the good guys female, black, ethnic or alien, while all the white guys are evil. Yeah fine. I'm happy they feel good about themselves. The thing is, it is the progressive liberals who obsess about diversity. I don't care one way or the other and you shouldn't either.

3) Some of the human characters are computer generated versions of actors who appeared in the original Star Wars for which this film is a prequel -- actors who have either died or grown too old. These simulacrums are not entirely convincing.

4) There is a sequence late in the film where we discover that the secret plans for the Death Star are stored in a giant imperial jukebox and our heroes have to dodge blaster bolts while digging for pocket change for the coin slot. I may exaggerate a bit but that the sequence does seem to feature technology with a decided 1970s high-tech vibe. Like all the other films in the series Rogue One starts with "A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far, Far Away." I guess the 1970s is getting to be a "long time ago" ...

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