Friday, 16 December 2016

Review: Rogue One (second-pass)

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (second-pass / 2D / SPOILER-FREE)
Cert: 12A / 134 mins / Dir. Gareth Edwards / Trailer

Previous reviews:
First-pass (spoiler-free)

So, another run at the new Star Wars movie, within twenty four hours of the first, brought a few advantages. The first was the freedom from polarised glasses and their subsequent light-loss. I've long been on the fence about 3D in live-action films, and while the desired effect was certainly 'there' in the midnight screening I attended, it wasn't calibrated brilliantly so there was ghosting all over the shop*1. Anyhow, the 2D version of Rogue One is every bit as immersive and spectacular as its showboating counterpart. As you'd expect, of course.

The plot-mechanics made more sense this time, too. Not that the film's needlessly complicated at all, but the first time I saw it I was overwhelmed with The Everything Of Star Wars™, including new planets, new locations and looking out for Easter-eggs and callbacks. So with all that (or most of that) 'out of the way', I could sit and concentrate on the whys and hows of the story. Smashing stuff, a little 'convenient' in one or two places, although nowhere near as much as I'd expect from a 'slot-in' movie.

The real gain from re-watching the film is seeing Gareth Edwards' work come together like this. The thing about film direction is that when it's good, you're not supposed to notice it. Well, except for the geeks. We notice it. Rogue One is an incredibly lean movie. The story hares along barely pausing for breath, there's little in the way of downtime or reflection, and we're introduced to eight new central characters. But everyone is pulling in the same direction under Edwards' auspices, and the result is a slick, tense adventure movie.

However… even though the crescendo is incredibly satisfying (no mean feat given that the audience know the outcome of the story before they start watching it), it'd be a fair criticism to say that the film lacks an emotional depth. The amount of time spent with most of the characters (Imperial and insurgent alike) on an individual basis means that any potential setbacks or casualties (this is a spoiler-free review, remember) don't resonate as deeply with the audience as they would normally.

But at the same time, this isn't a chin-stroking, emotional thought-piece, it's a heist-movie. And I defy anyone to not be grinning like an idiot when [REDACTED] goes [REDACTED]ing through the [REDACTED] to get the [REDACTED]. Because that's what we've all been waiting for.

Well done, Mr Edwards; bravo sir.

So, watch this if you enjoyed?
All of The Star Wars.

Should you watch this in a cinema, though?

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
It does.

Is this the best work of the cast or director?
It's a strong showing.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?

Yes, but is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?

Yes, but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 0: It is Star Wars.

Although if you really wanted to go the long way round with it…

Rogue One stars Ben Mendelsohn of course, who's due to appear in the upcoming Ready Player One alongside Simon Pegg, who provided voicework for 2011's The Adventures Of Tintin, as did Daniel Mays who rocked up in the second series of Life On Mars, which also features an appearance from Ralph Brown, who is in the imminent biopic Jackie, headed by Natalie Portman who was the lead in Jane Got A Gun, in which she supported by Joel Edgerton, who turned up in Exodus: Gods And Kings, as did Ben Mendlesohn… who stars in Rogue One.

That's how we do it.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 Although at least the 3D is screen 1 of my local is projected at a brightness which makes it watchable (still too dark, but watchable). The projection bulbs in the larger screen 5 are either on their way to the bin, or are out of calibration for the size of the auditorium. I only mention this here in case someone from Didcot happens to be reading and would like to maybe have a look at that. And while you're on, if you could look at the bulb in the projection room which shines a glare of light out across the top of the screen permanently so that every dark scene in a movie is affected, that'd be great. I've only mentioned it to the front-of-house staff twice now ;)

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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