You know STAR WARS. It’s a tale about that Skywalker Family, those Jedis and Siths. And then there’s all those muggles of the STAR WARS universe that ain’t shooting lightning from their hands, that if they fall from a great height, they don’t magically bend in space into a perfect slippery slide. They don’t have lightsabers and if they fire Proton Torpedoes at the sweet spot, they’ve gotta swallow their pride and admit, “It didn’t go in!”
One of the greatest aspects of the STAR WARS universe is its ability to make you wonder about each and every character in its galaxy far far away, so long ago. But we’ve never been given a chance to go off path. Every STAR WARS movie we’ve seen for basically our entire life was about a single thread in a limitless galaxy of possibilities.
Like, I remember when I was a kid watching STAR WARS right from the beginning, I don’t know about you, but when Luke goes on the Death Star raid, for some reason, I gave those other pilots more weight than Luke. I mean, they had… at least… flown an X-WING before. In the cross chat on that mission, you hear a seeming history of missions in the professional manner that belied an unseen truth. This wasn’t their first rodeo. And if you remembered your crawl, you were told about a victory against the Empire that they won, that resulted in the secret plans for the Death Star to begin the film that lit wild fire to our imaginations.
This ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY – it’s that dream. When you hear that the Rebels “have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire!” Then you see STAR WARS, and you see Luke & Han get medals for blowing up the Death Star – ya kinda can’t help but wonder if those Rebels that won that first victory got medals too. Well, you’ll kinda find out.
If you wonder about the creatures in the Cantina on Tatooine… Like that rude ugly guy with his toothy faced buddy… did they just hang out at that bar all the time, I mean, he told Luke that he was a bit of a wanted character… What’d he do? Was he always this rude? Where was he like a week ago? Well, you may find out.
But let’s think about the broader bigger questions. What was the status of that Civil War between the Rebels and Empire? How well organized was this so-called rebellion? It sure did seem a bit rink-a-dink. That wasn’t a very large force that was attacking the Death Star. There didn’t seem to be any larger cruisers, we didn’t see Ion Cannons yet. And when we saw that big award ceremony, where the fuck were all those people you see there in that giant hall, like right before? Did they have space ships?
STAR WARS isn’t about setting the context for the state of affairs before Luke Skywalker became an intergalactic super badass for all time.
Also – it sure seemed that all those John Williams cues were emerging fresh from the souls these characters and scenarios. That music just grew from those scenes and situations. This film’s only use of Williams music or passages – comes ever so slightly as characters pop up that we know their musical power. Now with have Michael Giacchino constructing a new musical tale to fit this new story of Rebellion & Desperation.
Gareth Edward’s ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY – with a story that came from legendary visual effects god, John Knoll’s noggin, then was worked on with Gary Whitta, then Chris Weitz & Tony Gilroy… well I found it to be a complete Grand Slam.
Like many of you, I’ve started to become obsessive about coverage about ROGUE ONE. I did a ROGUE ONE / DONNIE YEN YouTube rabbit hole the other day – and it was some serious happy time. Watching Gareth Edwards’ interviews across the web, he seemed genuinely loose and geeking out pretty well. But in the more substantial interviews, he was espousing some interesting theories about the tonal reflection that ROGUE ONE was to STAR WARS.
Having seen the film, boy he isn’t kidding. I just got finished with programming BUTT-NUMB-A-THON 18. Programming a 24 hour film festival requires one to think about where one is emotionally and artistically engaging of an audience. At this point folks, STAR WARS is simply attempting to become the ultimate film festival. Let’s face it, a whole lot of us that live and breathe STAR WARS, we marathon these things.
When I came home from ROGUE ONE, I had a strong strong urge to instantly watch the original STAR WARS. The films fit like a pendant to hang from your neck. This is an immediate prequel. There are many characters, that walk astride both films. Sometimes with unused footage from the original film, sometimes through the absolute wizardry of ILM and sometimes using original actors to revoice original characters . It’s real fucking awesome.
Profound disappointments that the film gave me… No GRAND ADMIRAL THRAWN. I swear, every Imperial locale in the film, my eyes were scanning. Ever since he appeared in REBELS I was praying to see him somewhere. Yes, I heart Thrawn that much, just a fleeting glance would perhaps cause my pulse to race and die. Alas, still not in film world.
So – what about this film rocked my galaxy far far away?
Excuse me while I crack my knuckles…
Trusty R2D2 hat on head, R2 & Threepio in the Sand Crawler on screen and there’s so much to love.
#1. So many killer cool locales. I feel like this film goes to more destinations than any previous STAR WARS movie. I can’t wait to read more about those worlds immediately.
#2. This isn’t a direct line mission. Our characters are fighting all sorts of battles all over the movie. Seems the Galaxy is a pretty dark place. Explosions in crowded streets, battles in crowds. Serious hardware around.
#3. The very aggressive and realistic battle action. Let’s face it, I don’t play video games, I play BATTLEFRONT. I’m terrible at it, but deliriously happy. My nephew is pretty great at it – and that’s fine by me. Here, Gareth is giving us beautifully shot action in multiple locales.
#4. Common location with Episode 4. So much love for every new shot. There’s more than one, and the scene that begins elsewhere, then stumbles across an Episode 4 location via awesome fucking fuck yes giggle shits! Well that scene is particularly awesome. I mean… no deets, but it reminded me of that Hallway scene in THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD (1951)
#5. Seeing – Hearing DARTH VADER again! I’m talking about… the kind of deep levels of happy here!
#6. Dead Actors brought back to life! Is it creepy? Yes. Is that great? Yes. Why? Because that creepy fucking awesome actor is on that screen creepier than real to me. It’s like that character is pure nightmare material here.
#7. Magically Youthful Appearances of shared film characters!!! Seeing these familiar faces, be they unused original STAR WARS plates or computer magic that just delights for me.
#8. Use of original Trilogy technology and droids!!! Every single one is a Memberry that coats the brain with happy sauce for me. Some, momentarily deliriously so. Like, explosion to cheering type of reactions. You know, when suddenly you’ve done something aggressively loud in a theater, worry at the Pavlovian response, until you realize… EVERYONE ELSE IS DOING THE EXACT SAME THING, because let’s face it. We’re easy!
#9. Is this film… light? NO. Is this film… bleak? This film does not pull punches. Be prepared to have serious conversations about how a War, even a STAR one… is Hell. Sometimes there are no award ceremonies with smiling faces and this is that kind of mission.
#10. Is this film too adult for my kids? NO. However, the film does have consequences, rather serious ones for a lot of characters . However, incredibly satisfying.
#11. ROGUE ONE delivers A NEW HOPE. But boy is it a slim one.
#12. If you haven’t shown your kids the original STAR WARS, take them to ROGUE ONE and when they ask when the next one comes out, just be the coolest STAR WARS parent ever by simply putting the disc in. Or punching it up on your Amazon cue and say, “Here’s the next 4 movies!”
#13. By raising the stakes higher than we’ve ever felt before. I mean, seriously, without the work these characters do, the next film couldn’t happen. It’s built that well.
#14. These Characters. I love them. Each and every one. This is very definitely another STAR WARS movie that I’m going to watch like it can’t stop.
#15. That Droid, you know the one. It has a completely different physicality to any and all droids we’ve seen in the Star Wars Universe and its spectacular. Not just in the physical manner, but the voice work and the lines to be read. GREAT. Just spectacular really. So happy I have that huge doll!
#16. “The South Pacific Beach Battle” – Play goto Play goto Play goto Play goto Play!
Dropping the numbers because that’s probably as high as I can remember to count in my current condition of severe geekiness. Plus… frankly I’m tired of playing coy. It’s time to speak frankly about a few things.
That’s right, this is the point, where I’d say stop reading until you’ve seen the film.
Seriously, go back.
Really, you don’t want to spoil this.
Sure, you smugly know where this ends up. Mostly over a desert planet that holds Pod Races and serves Blue Milk. BTW, that’s…. well you’ll see.
Look, it’s getting really hard to hold back man.
Are you trying to deliberately get mad at me. Go back.
See the movie. Go to a toy aisle, buy one of the toys first. Really doesn’t matter which one. They all rule. You’re going to like these characters a lot. They’re not the magic people in Episode IV, V, VI and VII… nor the ones that came before in Episodes I, II, III. This is about the Empire versus the Rebellion… And Darth Vader is out there. He’s going to show up. And it’s useless to resist. Fuck man. Vader is Vorhees with a fucking light saber. The shit is like my imagination of the missing Wampa versus Stormtrooper battle is masterfully produced. It’s just… USELESS TO RESIST. Seriously. Cuz no matter what – VADER will mow you like another blade of grass.
You paying attention? So – you’re a Vader. Congratulations on the little ones. VADER is a very bad man here! It’s fucking awesome. It’s going to feel like that opening scene in LOGAN, but a light saber cauterizes.
That’s all the spoilers I’m giving. And it ain’t very specific at that. The music is less purely lyrical than Williams – but then, more violence is going on here. This is a much more dire situation. Giachinno’s music has familiar registry, but is a much more somber showing. Plenty of adventure beats, peril trails and wonder.
This film is for all those rebels and Stormtrooper out there. You guys, gals… this movie is really for you.
There are so many delights for you in this film. Gareth Edwards gave us the darkness from which to see a new hope and it gives me a new reason to watch STAR WARS and discover just how quickly it moves and how perfect every second is. I love knowing the story behind the Death Star that this film teaches us. I love the additional look into the Rebellion. The additional look at even more Imperial Facilities. I love the diversity of the class finally matching the diversity of the aliens in STAR WARS! I get giddy thinking about at least 40 different moments in the film.
I really truly love ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY. I hope you do too!