Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Apocalypse Star Wars

Ok, it’s not bad. I did enjoy watching it.

I’m not in a hurry to go back, though.

If you thought the TIE fighters coming out of the sunset was Apocalypse Now, wait until you get a load of this one. Forest Whitaker is Kurtz, complete with paranoid mumblings and devoted followers, with a heavy-handed dash of Darth Vader. The new u-wing isn’t really a fighter, it’s more a combat shuttle, complete with seat-belt strapping and slide away doors with pintel-mounted .50 calibre... er, blasters.

Rogue One is a very Cold War story, which makes its interface with Episode IV feel like an ill fit. The original trilogy wears its WWII on its sleeve. There’s no question the Empire is the Axis powers, with their Stormtroopers, howling TIE fighters, and Japanese-inspired helmets. Lucas famously used dog-fighting footage from WWII movies as filler for the FX starship scenes. The villains are vile and the heroes, even the princess, exude an aw-shucks nobility that personifies the American self-image of what we call the Greatest Generation.

Not so in Rogue One. Even the heroes have been damaged by war, their principles compromised for their cause. The rebel “heroes” are murderers, blasting people in cold blood, and carry the scars of those actions. (Though a few from the gang at the end felt more than a little too green to bear such weights.)

The writing doesn’t help. Listen, I’m one of those softies who loves Babylon 5 and nearly bursts into tears when Sam tells Frodo, “I can’t carry it, but I can carry you!” Purple prose doesn’t send my eyes a-rollin’. But there’s good purple prose and then there’s leaden purple prose, and the constant litany of “hope-hope-hope” just sounded flat. Especially when you consider how so many characters just seem to give up in their final minutes, shrug, and wait for their inevitable deaths.

And the music also isn’t helping. The call-backs are timid, the emotional beats are timid. There’s too much trying to be Star Wars and not be John Williams going on here, and it just doesn’t do the emotional heavy-lifting a movie with this sort of dialogue and themes needs. You can tell that poor Michael Giacchino was working under severe time restraints.

Which all sounds pretty bad, but honestly, as sci-fi space opera movies go, Rogue One was actually entertaining. There’s some neat characters, some fun banter, the comedy is excellent and not heavy-handed. It’s got cool locales, neat ships, and well-filmed action. It’s just not up the standards set by The Force Awakens or the Captain America movies.

Comic by jollyjack.

1 comment:

Yora said...

That was also my disappointed impression. It's not a magical fantasy adventure. It's a war movie that raided the Star Wars props locker.