April 24, 2017

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, et al


I'm no Stars Wars expert. Having seen the entire series only recently, I can barely remember what happened when and who the key people were. My memory basically consists of storm troopers, ewoks, and Ewan McGregor's weird braid. 

Luckily, every Star Wars movie seems to stick pretty tightly to the same plot: evil empire vs. rebel alliance, something about a death star, and lots of flight sequences. This movie does not deviate from that formula.

It does, however, manage to stay fresh and exciting, which I think it quite an achievement for the eighth installment of a franchise. Now, this could be because I haven't watched Star Wars a million times and therefore can't pinpoint the exact overlaps between each movie, but I think the introduction of completely new characters in the same universe, without disrupting the original story, is pretty rad. And yes, bear with me, because I'm about to spout off about its diversity.

This movie is the first one I've seen in a very long time with actual racial diversity. Not just a nod to it, with a black sidekick or a female lead (good start, The Force Awakens), but actors of every color in major roles, without their ethnicity being integral to their role. And it makes sense for this movie. Think about it: it's a sci-fi movie where creatures from all over the universe are featured. Why wouldn't there be people of different skin colors and accents, coming together? So while I am celebrating this cast, I'm also wondering why the hell it took so long.

Speaking of the cast (and how much diversity means), I want to highlight this article about a man who took his father to watch the movie because of Diego Luna. I'll be honest: it was a selling point for me too--though for entirely different reasons. ;) But I was equally excited to see not one, but TWO Asian actors, only of whom had to perform martial arts. Every actor, from Riz Ahmed to Alan Tudyk, made me happy because I felt like I was finally watching a movie that wasn't cast just to to snag the most famous name they could get. (This is not to say there weren't famous people in the movie, but you can't argue it wouldn't have been significantly different if suddenly Tom Cruise or Jennifer Lawrence were in it.)

So this is where I come to the ending. I have never posted a spoiler in my life. But I feel so compelled to talk about the ending that I have to. I watched this movie three days ago and I still can't stop thinking about it. So, obligatory SPOILER ALERT warning. (scroll past to see my final word at the bottom.)

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They all get killed.

Like, all of them. Every. Single. One. Diego Luna, Felicity Jones, Riz Ahmed, Donnie Yen, Alan Tudyk, Wen Jiang--all of them. They all die. It's fucking horrific.

The movie reviewer inside of me wants to applaud the writer for this utterly shocking twist, because the hero always prevails in Star Wars. I mean sure, people die here and there throughout the series, but not before getting through a few movies first. The main characters are never introduced and killed within the span of the same movie, and certainly never all of them at once. It's so brutal it's almost brilliant. I mean, it is a prequel after all, and these characters don't appear in any later movies. So maybe I should have seen it coming. 

At the same time, I am so pissed. And I don't mean disappointed or sad. I am pissed. How could they do that? How could they finally give us characters that aren't horrible actors (Anakin) or weak saps (Padmé) and kill them off? How can we possibly be stuck with Adam Driver for countless more movies, but there will be no more Diego Luna? HOW IS THIS FAIR???

I'm not exaggerating when I say I spent a solid thirty minutes screaming "they fucking killed them all!!" after watching this movie. One or two deaths would have been sad, but expected. It's a war movie, after all. But THEY KILLED THEM ALL! I'm honestly devastated. I've never cared so much about Star Wars in my life. But it's also why I also think this is the best Star Wars movie since A New Hope.

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Final word: I wish we'd be getting more movies with this cast instead of the cast from The Force Awakens.

3 comments:

  1. I've been meaning to comment on this post for a while, my apologies.

    I think this review is spot-on. I was so leery of this one after 3 shitty prequels and it being "outside the normal storyline". It was fantastic! The diversity that you talk about is amazing because even as a privileged, white kid I asked myself as a child "there are so many creatures in this world, why are all of the humans British?" True story.

    Also, the VFX to bring dead actors back to life and tie this whole thing together, brilliant. It has become my fave SW movie.

    Oh, one more thing. That scene where Vader wastes thru all of those rebel soldiers was what I've waited 7 movies to see. That's the "greatest villain" of all-time, unlike that 90's tail-haircut crybaby we got for 3 other sequels.

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    1. I don't know if I agree with you on bringing dead actors back to life. That kind of freaks me out.

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  2. Well, I think it could be overdone or inappropriate but I think doing it in this situation was worth it!

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