EDWARDS SAVES FAILING FRANCHISE
Film Review by Fiore
STAR WARS fans, Disney and the folk at Lucas Films should all pray this Christmas season for Gareth Edwards. The man, literally, saves the decomposing franchise of a galaxy far, far away from becoming totally irrelevant. This is not to say ROGUE ONE is an excellent movie; far from it. But, it certainly aims the franchise back on the right track after the complete debacle that was THE FORCE AWAKENS.
Let’s begin by stating outright, there was absolutely no need to make ROGUE ONE. We all know the story. In the beginning of A NEW HOPE, the graphic crawl and the opening characterizations, tell the tale of how valiant members of the Rebel Alliance, through great sacrifice and martyrdom, manage to steal the schematics of the Empire’s Death Star. These blue prints will enable the Rebel forces to find a pre-programmed weakness in the weapon, and destroy it. “Help me Obi Wan. You are our only hope.”
Like the first three episodes, anyone watching the initial trilogy did not need visualization of a twice-told tale. I am flummoxed at the desire or necessity for fanboys to insist on the creation of backstories. Since the entire concept of ROGUE ONE was told in the opening moments of A NEW HOPE, the only element making it worth watching is Edward’s approach. “I wanted to make a war film,” he said in a pre-release interview. “It’s a very rich scenario in which to set a movie.”
He succeeds, and therefore, so does ROGUE ONE. The opening 25 minutes of the film are absolute boredom. Even with Easter Eggs thrown in, the story drags. The last fifty minutes of the movie, however, are akin to the WWII films of Hollywood’s Golden Age, complete with impactful images similar to John Wayne storming the beaches at Normandy. ROGUE ONE is a fast-paced roller coaster ride for about the last hour.
New to the STAR WARS universe are: Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso; Diego Luna as Cassian Andor; Mads Mikkelsen as Galen Erso; Ben Mendelsohn as Orson Krennic; Donnie Yen as Chirrut Imwe; and Forest Whitaker as Saw Gerrera. Jones is quite enjoyable. She is able to play her role realistically, without the absurdities of the Disney’s Woman Warrior Agenda. My favorite, though is unquestionably Donnie Yen. Yoda is nowhere to be found, so Yen’s Imwe serves as a blend of Yoda and the blind Master Po from TV’s KUNG FU. His fight scenes are prime, as one would expect, and his non-action scenes are entertaining comic relief. By now, everyone knows Darth Vader makes an appearance, voiced once again by James Earl Jones; and Peter Cushing and Carrie Fisher also appear through CGI characterization. It’s nice, but it’s easy to tell it’s not really them.
KEY SCENES TO LOOK FOR:
1. Imwe versus the Imperial Storm Troopers
2. Vadar’s first appearance
3. The climactic battle
Edward’s is set to be the ultimate winner with ROGUE ONE, much to the chagrin of Godzilla fans. Edwards created one of the better Godzilla films with his American version of the King of Monsters. It was so good, it still makes Toho’s own follow-up, SHIN GODZILLA, look childish. Edwards was set to helm GODZILLA 2, and then the remake of KING KONG VS. GODZILLA, but withdrew from the projects, principally due to ROGUE ONE. Directing in the STAR WARS universe is a golden ring Edwards coveted. Additional standalone films are scheduled in the STAR WARS saga. Future movies will feature characters such as Han Solo and Boba Fett; just as Wolverine had his ow series outside of the X-MEN. Edwards, with the strength of this endeavor, must be considered a frontrunner for these films. If GODZILLA 2 fails under a new director, Godzilla fans’ screams of outrage will drown the applause from STAR WARS fans.
Realistically, the STAR WARS franchise was sinking faster than the Titanic. After THE PHANTOM MENACE, ATTACK OF THE CLONES, AND REVENGE OF THE SITH, even die-hard fans were beginning to suspect they were being duped, just for profit extension. THE FORCE AWAKENS proved to be a waste of time and effort, augmenting the series’ irrelevance. The franchise needed something to salvage it. Gareth Edwards threw out the life preserver.
THE GRADE FOR ROGUE ONE = B