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Thom Price
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Posted: 30 December 2016 at 8:25am | IP Logged | 1 post reply

Will bitter fans never let it go?

***

If one is going to spend twelve months grousing that a current movie isn't as good as one released four decades ago, perhaps the "let it go" perspective could be reconsidered?  :-)

Throughout the discussions of both TFA and RO, I find myself really wondering about expectations.  Some of you seem to have extremely ... optimistic expectations, and for the life of me I can't figure out where they come from.

In the entire history of cinema, how many very good sequels are there?  And how many of them manage to not be redundant, self-referential, or somehow undermine the original?  (Whatever hand you're counting on, I assume you have a few fingers left.)

The first two STAR WARS series can't live up to those standards.  The third film is basically a remake of the first, and the prequels aren't much more than archaeology.

Add to that the obvious business considerations: Disney didn't shell out $4 billion to make sci-fi art films set in some obscure corner of the Star Wars universe.  They are predictably going to mine the familiar.

Reasonable expectations can make the world of difference.  Just as if one goes into a Marvel movie expecting to be reminded of a comic book from 1982, one is probably going to be disappointed.
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Peter Martin
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Posted: 30 December 2016 at 9:37am | IP Logged | 2 post reply

Some people are complaining that this film didn't feel like a Star Wars film. I had to pause when one person I saw write that this felt like some war movie and not Star Wars. I wanted to respond by saying War is in the friggen title so how can someone complain about a war in a Star Wars movie.
-----------------------------------
Star Wars contains genocide, death, opression, torture  and, yes, 'wars' is part of its title. It is also a feel-good fairytale meant for all ages with idealistic heroes as its protagonists.

It comes down to tone.

Just because it has 'wars' in its title does not mean that all aspects of war are automatically fair game or appropriate for inclusion.

As Greg mentioned, there are moral ambiguities here that I think sit ill at ease in a Star Wars movie.

In the many discussions of why Star Wars was such a success, a notion that is oft touted is that it was a return to the simpler morality of old-fashioned storytelling, where the bad guys were bad and the good guys were good.

I don't think having one of the main rebel characters execute his pal just in case he might give up some info benefits Star Wars.

As for Thom's observation on optimistic expectations. I think you are right, Thom, that it's unrealistic not to expect Disney to squeeze the franchise for value by mining the familiar (though I think this does necessarily invite comparisons with the original, how could it not?), but I don't think it's too much to expect a well-told tale within those confines.

I felt the structural bones of the story were wanting. The section about going to Jedha to talk to Saw Gerrera (Che Guevara?) seemed to really kill the pace of the film. It was so long for something that added so very little to the story.

The dialogue seemed perfunctory, the characters unspecial,  the story dull and I was unimpressed by the performances.

It looked great and the action was well-executed, but this wasn't enough to make me feel involved in what was going on, no matter how good it looked. The only drama I felt in the whole running time was when the Dirty Dozen got wiped out at the end and Vader went ape on the rebel troopers.
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Kelly Sheppard
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Posted: 30 December 2016 at 9:54am | IP Logged | 3 post reply

1. In terms of the Rebellion, is anyone else here kinda uncomfortable with the gray shades introduced in this film? Before, the war was pretty darn black-and-white, which is one of the great strengths of STAR WARS--the moral certainty of the heroes (with Han and Lando--rogues with hearts of gold--on the fringe). Now, we've seen Rebels who have done things they're not proud of, and will even kill non-Imperials to benefit the cause.
*****************************************
Isn't that part of the point of the movie?  The rebels are in this gray area at the start.  They are willing to sacrifice the lives of others but aren't willing to self-sacrifice.  They aren't a movement of hope, of standing up against the Empire.  The rebels at this point are a group who can say they are against the Empire without fully suffering the consequences.  It is a relatively safe place to be while saying they are against evil.

It is Cassian's arc.  He goes from killing his informant to make sure he can escape the imperials & killing an extremist wing of the resistance to disobeying orders to assassinate  Galen to volunteering to potentially sacrifice himself to get the Death Star plans.

The entire team he gathers to go with Jyn makes the ultimate sacrifice.  They decide to make a stand, to shift from being antiheroes to being heroes.  They inspire others such as Admiral Raddus & his fleet to do the same.  

This is contrast to many of the "leaders" of the rebellion.  Many of these "leaders" would rather stay in the shadows, sacrificing others, than making a stand and sacrificing themselves, which is why the leadership council decides against Jyn's plan.  They don't want to make themselves targets.  Mon Mothma and Bail Organa don't agree with the majority and make plans to support & follow-up on Jyn's mission.  Organa in particular makes a huge sacrifice in doing so as  Alderaan becomes the target for the demonstration of the full power of the Death Star.

Rogue One is about the Rebel Alliance finding that moral certainty that not surprisingly leads them into finding the next Jedi.  Yes they sacrfice in the process but in manner full of hope that inspires. 
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Thom Price
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Posted: 30 December 2016 at 10:34am | IP Logged | 4 post reply

I don't think it's too much to expect a well-told tale within those confines.

****

To which I have no disagreement.  I said as much in my review that I thought RO had a weak plot and uninvolving characters, and that I regarded it as no more than decent.

A movie like this functions on two levels -- the fundamentals of film (narrative, pacing, characters, acting, etc), but also as a STAR WARS entry.  It is the reaction to the later that I find ... well, curious.

Someone astutely noted in the discussion of TFA that the conversation had taken an odd turn: people seemed to be complaining that TFA was too much like STAR WARS but also not enough like STAR WARS.   That thread, and no doubt this one will follow, devolved into a Complain About Everything.  I sometimes snarkily wondered if the font of the closing credits was acceptable.

When we get to the point that people are complaining that Darth Vader did things in RO that he didn't do in the first film, haven't we kind of hit of dead end in regards to what one could expect from a series?
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Anthony J Lombardi
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Posted: 30 December 2016 at 10:38am | IP Logged | 5 post reply

Star Wars contains genocide, death, opression, torture  and, yes, 'wars' is part of its title. It is also a feel-good fairytale meant for all ages with idealistic heroes as its protagonists.

It comes down to tone.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I don't disagree with the notion that the films being considered fairy tale movies. But they haven't always been feel good movies. 'Empire Strikes Back' and 'Revenge of the Sith' are examples of that. 
```````

Just because it has 'wars' in its title does not mean that all aspects of war are automatically fair game or appropriate for inclusion.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Not all aspects of war have been included 
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As Greg mentioned, there are moral ambiguities here that I think sit ill at ease in a Star Wars movie.

````````

I understand that and it's perfectly acceptable to me that some people feel uneasy about it.  As I mentioned in my previous post I think that Sta Wars should expand in the types of stories it tells if it is going to continue. I don't want to see just a bunch of films constantly rehashing what has already been done.  Abrams seems content with doing those kinds of films and passing them off as his own.  Sure lets have the same kind of feel good popcorn films the Lucas made. They are great entertainment . I certainly don't want the franchise to move completely away from that. 
 Keep that kind of feel to the main storyline of films. But these side quest films can go off in different directions.
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I really don't see how 

In the many discussions of why Star Wars was such a success, a notion that is oft touted is that it was a return to the simpler morality of old-fashioned storytelling, where the bad guys were bad and the good guys were good.
~~~~~~~~``

I like those kinds of stories as well. But not every story needs to be like that. Rogue One maybe the first film to openly veer away from that model. It certainly isn't the first time to introduce the idea into the story.  Look what Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi and Revenge of the Sith did to Obi Wan. 
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I don't think having one of the main rebel characters execute his pal just in case he might give up some info benefits Star Wars.
`````````````````````
I agree with you. I disliked that it was included in the movie. But ultimately that rebel paid for that action. He died in the end.
~~~~~~~~~~~~```

As for Thom's observation on optimistic expectations. I think you are right, Thom, that it's unrealistic not to expect Disney to squeeze the franchise for value by mining the familiar (though I think this does necessarily invite comparisons with the original, how could it not?), but I don't think it's too much to expect a well-told tale within those confines.
`````````````````````
I think it is a matter of opinion when it comes to being a well told tale. Where as we are talking about Rogue One. The film isn't without faults. But I think it was a well told story.

I felt the structural bones of the story were wanting. The section about going to Jedha to talk to Saw Gerrera (Che Guevara?) seemed to really kill the pace of the film. It was so long for something that added so very little to the story.

The dialogue seemed perfunctory, the characters unspecial,  the story dull and I was unimpressed by the performances.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Some of the performances didn't impress me. Others I enjoyed quite a bit.  The dialogue as I mentioned above I felt where better than what Lucas has written for the most part.
``````````````````````````

It looked great and the action was well-executed, but this wasn't enough to make me feel involved in what was going on, no matter how good it looked. The only drama I felt in the whole running time was when the Dirty Dozen got wiped out at the end and Vader went ape on the rebel troopers.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My favorite parts of the film. Vader's wiping out the rebels was by far my favorite of all his appearance in any of the films. Finally I saw what I always hope to see him do. Speaking exclusively about the action stuff.

The whole film I think was building up to the ending of the film. Which in my opinion is the best part of the film. The build up could have been much better.  If I were to grade the film the ending gets an A the rest of the film I'd give a C +

Averaging it out makes the film in my opinion good but not great.  In my opinion for as different as it was to the Lucas's films. It still felt more like it belong to the original trilogy of films. Abram's film felt like it belonged to the prequel trilogy of films.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 30 December 2016 at 10:39am | IP Logged | 6 post reply

If one is going to spend twelve months grousing that a current movie isn't as good as one released four decades ago, perhaps the "let it go" perspective could be reconsidered?  :-)
+++++++++

One year is not same as twenty!
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Michael Roberts
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Posted: 30 December 2016 at 1:23pm | IP Logged | 7 post reply

In terms of the Rebellion, is anyone else here kinda uncomfortable with
the gray shades introduced in this film? Before, the war was pretty darn
black-and-white, which is one of the great strengths of STAR WARS--
the moral certainty of the heroes (with Han and Lando--rogues with
hearts of gold--on the fringe). Now, we've seen Rebels who have done
things they're not proud of, and will even kill non-Imperials to benefit the
cause.

------

I think Lucas mucked that all up when he had Vader redeemed for all
the evil he had done by killing the Emperor to save his own son.
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Peter Martin
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Posted: 30 December 2016 at 2:59pm | IP Logged | 8 post reply

It's a valid point to bring up as something's that hard to swallow in ROTJ. 

But to me, as hard as it is to swallow (and I didn't accept it as believable back in 1983 nor do I now), it's not really a shade of grey. In a way, it is a really extreme case of how black and white the original trilogy is. There is no partial forgiveness; Vader does not get some small measure of credit for turning on the Emperor while being held accountable for his past evil. 

Instead, the genocidal maniac gets totally redeemed by Luke the redeemer.

He was on the side of darkness, but swings entirely to the side of light, in an almost biblical fashion. And the film allows for no shades of grey in between.

In Rogue One, I have no problem with the pilot who defects. He was on the wrong side, but now he's decided to do right. It's more the kind of jaded, moral muddiedness of Cassian And/Or? that sat ill with me.


Edited by Peter Martin on 30 December 2016 at 3:00pm
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Michael Roberts
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Posted: 30 December 2016 at 3:09pm | IP Logged | 9 post reply

It's a valid point to bring up as something's that hard to swallow in
ROTJ.

But to me, as hard as it is to swallow (and I didn't accept it as
believable back in 1983 nor do I now), it's not really a shade of grey.

-----

I wasn't really drawing a direct comparison as much as marking where
Star Wars ceased being about white hats vs black hats. Once Lucas
turned the story into the "Rise, Fall, and Redemption of Darth Vader",
all the moral questions that could be ignored in the Original Trilogy
were harder to ignore, and Lucas blurred the lines further to the point
where one can argue that the Jedi had Order 66 coming because of
their own hubris.
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Anthony J Lombardi
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Posted: 30 December 2016 at 3:17pm | IP Logged | 10 post reply

I say that Vader redeemed himself in the eyes of his son. As well as Yoda and Obi Wan. I doubt Leia and the rest of the Star Wars Universe would have thought so. 

Since Vader died we don't know if he would have completely went back to the light side of the force. Maybe he would have relapsed. I think best case scenario he probably would have existed in a grey area. And would have gone into exile. I would think after killing the emperor there would been any number of his followers that would have been gunning for Vader.
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Monte Gruhlke
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Posted: 30 December 2016 at 4:11pm | IP Logged | 11 post reply

While I enjoy this film and thought that it did a fair job of being a sort of "Magnificent Seven" nod to get the plans, there were two elements that they never really accented that I felt would have made the movie much better:

1) Introduce Jyn as a one-woman rebel doing what she can to get back at the people who took her father. Show her missing her father more and having an idealistic passion for, well, rebelling. She's young, so the would see the world in black and white choices. THIS way when she meets up with the core of the actual rebellion, her speech would have a lot more weight in rallying others who apparently want to play it safer. Then have those core members reaction after Jyn's ship leaves saying stuff like "She's young and foolish.." "Yes," someone else would reply' "But she's right, we've been complacent for far too long. Freedom DOES demand we take chances... call in the fleet..."

2) I would have had a much smaller main cast, Jyn, the martial artist and his follower, the assassin and his robot. They should have gone on one attempt to gather plans in transit and have it fall apart on them, but during this time they could learn to work together as a team and provide a little more backstory. And it would not have killed them (pun not intended) to have the assassin's ship be more unique to him, not just a craft he was assigned. For me, Star Wars is fun when you give it a ship with some character too.
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Eric Russ
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Posted: 30 December 2016 at 10:28pm | IP Logged | 12 post reply

I haven't read the entire thread and someone may have touched on these points already -

I didn't get a sense of "joy" from Rogue One.  It is more of a Platoon, Apocalypse Now, war movie.

When I watch Star Wars, I am wanting more escapism.   Escapism, from what I read from George Lucas, was part of the gestation of Star Wars. A divergent from the "real world" films that were out.  

An entire planet was destroyed in Star Wars, but the mood of the film wasn't dark and dire.  Even The Empire Strikes Back, as well as the Clone Wars series, while dark, are not brooding dark.

Also, and this was an artistic choice I would guess, the cinematography was very dark.  It felt like I was looking at silhouettes for most of the film.

Lastly, I didn't feel a connection to any character.  There was no contrasting personalities, except for the one droid.  

The wardrobe all looked too similar as well. There was a lack of contrast visually/graphically, as well as with the character's personalities.




Edited by Eric Russ on 30 December 2016 at 10:28pm
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 30 December 2016 at 10:56pm | IP Logged | 13 post reply

I probably should have specified--yes, shades of gray were introduced in the original sequels and prequels, particularly in terms of Vader's redemption in JEDI. 

It's just that:

* TFA seemed to be taking steps back toward a more straightforward good/evil conflict, with a dollop of the soap opera from the original sequels. And, whIle there's some question as to whether or not Kylo Ren could be swayed back to the good side, the film seems to make it pretty clear that won't be happening.

* The Rebellion as shown in the original trilogy (and even the roots of the Rebellion in the prequels) didn't really possess any shades of gray, so this new take on things seems a little incongruous. Not necessarily bad, but it does add some unexpected wrinkles to a familiar cloth.


ROGUE ONE does seem to be a bit of an experiemental in regards to how far these tangential films can stray from the established tone and tropes of the numbered films. How far is too far before it stops feeling like a STAR WARS movie? Could we conceivably get an R-rated STAR WARS movie, somewhere down the line? I mean, if Warner can release an R-rated cut of BATMAN v. SUPERMAN...
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Tshombe K. Hamilton
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Posted: 31 December 2016 at 8:59am | IP Logged | 14 post reply

I had zero interest in seeing this movie. For me, prequels are a waste of time because you already know the ultimate outcome. That being said, I finally went and saw it last night and I was amazed. This was a great movie. 

 The reason being is that for the key characters it had a beginning middle and a definite end. I like that there we no Jedi but believers in the Force. I loved the scene with Vader's castle and him in the bacta tank. I loved watching Vader mow through the Rebels. Watching it after Carrie Fisher passed really touched me and brought a tear to my eye.

This movie really reinforced the urgency of  ANH in my opinion.






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Peter Martin
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Posted: 31 December 2016 at 12:38pm | IP Logged | 15 post reply

A random thought: Diego Luna seems to me like a much better Star Wars name than Cassian Andor!
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Thom Price
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Posted: 01 January 2017 at 9:04pm | IP Logged | 16 post reply

I saw ROGUE ONE again this evening, and enjoyed it more the second time around.  I still think it falls well short of being a great film, mostly due to a draggy and uninvolving first third of its narrative.  I think they should have dumped the entire Saw Gerrera detour and added more chances for the main actors to display some personality.  Seems like a bad choice to have cut Jyn's flinty demeanor that was displayed in the first trailer, as the end character was rather bland.

Once past that first thirty-ish minutes of the film, I found the rest more engaging than on first viewing.  I still keep it in "fourth best" ranking, but less grudgingly.
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Paul Kimball
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Posted: 02 January 2017 at 12:11pm | IP Logged | 17 post reply

I finally saw it this weekend.
Really enjoyed it, liked all the characters.

I could've used more Forrest Whittaker and more character development for
everyone as a whole but over-all it was pretty good.
I would rank it 3rd or 4th favorite movie out of the franchise, need to give it
some time to age to be sure.
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Marc Cheek
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Posted: 02 January 2017 at 1:26pm | IP Logged | 18 post reply

I finally saw it a couple of days ago and
enjoyed it well enough. Thom's comments
pretty much summed up my feelings. It
drug for the first half but the payoff at
the end was worth the wait. I never
really felt a connection with any of the
characters, though I would have liked to
have seen more of Baze Malbus and Chirrit
Imwe. It was the best of anything outside
of the original trilogy.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 02 January 2017 at 10:57pm | IP Logged | 19 post reply

Mr. Plinkett responds to comments on his comments about the film:

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Matthew Wilkie
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Posted: 04 January 2017 at 5:12pm | IP Logged | 20 post reply

Watched it for a second time tonight and the same thing bothered me: why are the death star engineers all so old? Reminded me of the inventors in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang who keep getting recruited and have to remain in the castle trying to build a flying car!
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Michael Roberts
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Posted: 05 January 2017 at 12:52am | IP Logged | 21 post reply

why are the death star engineers all so old?

----

We only saw Galen's team. The Death Star took at least 20 years to
build, and Galen likely picked people with whom he was familiar to be
on his team and avoided any ambitious young bucks who would try to
usurp his place or be able to spot his sabotage.
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Anthony J Lombardi
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Posted: 05 January 2017 at 2:50am | IP Logged | 22 post reply

why are the death star engineers all so old?

----
Generally speaking the youngsters wouldn't be in charge. They would be don't the grunt work. Learning their craft from the older guys. 
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Rick Senger
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Saw Rogue One yesterday. I liked K2SO and actually enjoyed the Tarkin recreation most people seem to be carping against (my gf had no idea he'd been dead for 25 years and thought he looked fine).  However, overall none of the other characters did much for me.  As someone pointed out, how sad that our intro into Diego Luna's character was his treacherous murder of a compatriot who just gets in the way.  These are not the noble countrymen and Jedi I associate with the best of the rebels, these are pirates and malcontents who couldn't agree on anything and had considerably less rooting interest than usual.  It took forever to get going for me, though it did finally did get interesting in the last act.  Still, everything good that TFA had from rich, engaging characters to an emotionally involving tale with a lot of heart just wasn't present for me in this one. 

Plotting was shaky.  There were good moments here and there, but a lot of what they focused on was not what interested me.  Beyond bridging Jyn to the Death Star plan heist, most of the sequence with Forest Whitaker seemed unnecessary and the painfully slow exposition mostly felt like a bungled attempt at character building.  The slogging first half made it impossible to develop many story points that would have compelled me more.  If he's in the movie, I needed to see more of Whitaker's fostering of young Jyn to understand their "special" relationship.  I felt no connection and he had nothing to do with their ultimate mission, so why give him 25 minutes?  I wanted more on the initial conception of the Death Star, how they solved the power consumption issue and then determined they had to plunder the crystal source to make it work, which we only saw after the horse was out of the barn.  I would have liked to actually observe how Galen snuck the flaw past committee and manipulated Krennic rather than hearing about it.  I wanted to follow Vader's further development under the Emperor (strangely and totally absent from this movie) rather than just seeing Vader blow up 15 people in a corridor, as fan-friendly as that sequence was.  I liked Krennic's character and I liked Tarkin hijacking his creation but as good as Mendelsohn was, we knew nothing about him beyond the usual overly-ambitious but flawed underling cannon-fodder Darth pulverizes when they mess up.  That conflict and subplot could have been much better but needed more fleshing out.

RO had bits and pieces of SW (space dog fights, explosions, gadgetry, production values) but was mostly unmemorable until that loud third act.  But I never felt much investment in the characters so I was never as engaged by their desperate "Dirty Dozen" mission as I wanted to be. That said, considering how cold and horrific the prequels are in content, acting and execution, I also place RO about fourth in the pecking order.  I won't be revisiting it for a while; probably not even on Netflix.  But it wasn't offensive as much as it felt underdeveloped.   I'll see it again someday.


Edited by Rick Senger on 06 January 2017 at 3:10pm
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Brian Rhodes
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Posted: 06 January 2017 at 5:20pm | IP Logged | 24 post reply

...these are pirates and malcontents who couldn't agree on anything and had considerably less rooting interest than usual...

A couple of smugglers, a farm boy, a hermit, and a homeless princess rarely saw eye-to-eye, but we've been rooting for them for almost 40 years...

There was nothing inherently bad about the types of relationships the characters in ROGUE ONE had, it was more the way those relationships were (or were not) explored that fell flat.
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 06 January 2017 at 7:05pm | IP Logged | 25 post reply

A couple of smugglers, a farm boy, a hermit, and a homeless princess rarely saw eye-to-eye, but we've been rooting for them for almost 40 years...
*****
Yes, but these were compelling and unique characters, well-written and acted! RO was a ragtag band of generic cardboard cutouts who didn't really differentiate themselves even given their brave sacrifice.  I felt bad for their one way mission and I WANTED to like these guys so much more but the writing just wasn't quite there to do so.

There was nothing inherently bad about the types of relationships the characters in ROGUE ONE had, it was more the way those relationships were (or were not) explored that fell flat.
*****
They were trying to build up something between the blind "at one with The Force" guy and the long-haired guy who shot really well; when the blind guy died it came as close to touching me as anything in the movie because I felt the other guys' sense of loss.  However, I'd never really observed such a close relationship between them until that moment.  So while the scene was well acted and more touching than most, it felt a bit out of left field.  Maybe I missed their connection earlier.  Jyn and Diego Luna's at-odds characters were the other relationship that they seemed to want us to be invested in but I never liked Diego Luna after he ambush-killed the guy in the alley.  And Jyn's character, despite a good try by Felicity Jones, just never quite grabbed me.  I don't know exactly why we like some people (Han Solo killed the guy in the bar and shot first but I love him) but somehow I just never cared about these people.



Edited by Rick Senger on 06 January 2017 at 7:08pm
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