Thursday, December 15, 2016

Rogue One!

Wow, what an incredible addition to the Star Wars saga. Rogue One, which is a film about how the rebellion managed to steal the plans of the first Death Star allowing them to destroy it in Episode IV A New Hope, was quite different from the other movies in the series but still continued the series tradition of amazing storytelling.

I watched this movie in the advanced midnight showing before the official start of the theatrical run on December 15. This is now the fourth time in a row that I watched a Star Wars movie on the advanced midnight showing. Of course I couldn't do this for the original trilogy since I was just a kid then and I watched Episode I with my family during the normal screening times but I watched Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith, The Force Awakens, and now Rogue One during the advanced screening. I am clearly a Star Wars fan. :) I also had a funny conversation with the movie ticket vendor while buying my ticket. She said that there are so many people buying tickets and I told her that most of the people my age are big fans. She said that she noticed that and she found it strange that the audience would actually clap even before the movie would start. This was indeed true when I watched it. (I guess this also means that there were more advanced screenings before that midnight showing.) As I left the cinema at a little past 2AM, I was on a such a high. This is definitely one of my favorite movies this year.

SPOILER ALERT: stop reading now if you don't want to read any spoilers.

The first unique thing about Rogue One which many people were already talking about was how it didn't start with the traditional Star Wars opening crawl text that would slowly scroll up and out into space. I also found that among many of the interesting things about Rogue One is its use of CGI to recreate actual people that Star Wars fans are familiar with. This movie happens right before Episode IV which came out in 1977 so the film creators had to use CGI to recreate some important characters on screen. An example of which is Grand Moff Tarkin, who was portrayed by Peter Cushing who passed away in 1994. Also, towards the end of the movie, a CGI version of the younger 1977 Princess Leia appeared on screen (resulting in many cheers from the audience).

Also, in the original trilogy, the Stormtroopers gained some degree of notoriety for their apparent inability to hit important targets with their lasers, so apart from Darth Vader, the Emperor, and the Death Star, we never really felt the overwhelming strength of the Empire. That is, however, not the case in this movie. Here the Empire is strong, terrifying, and deadly. You could see that the rebellion had every right to be afraid. One of the most showstopping scenes comes at the end, when Darth Vader boards one of the rebellion ships to take back the information they gathered. Rogue One made audiences see just how ominous Darth Vader was and why he made people shake in their boots. It was also great to see him use his choking power again.

However, what I personally found to be the most compelling thing about Rogue One is the fact that many rebels - including practically every lead character - died. There had never been a Star Wars film before where more than a few lead characters were killed (usually you would only have one: Qui-Gon Jinn in Episode I, Obiwan Kenobi - sort of - in Episode IV, and Han Solo in Episode VII) but in Rogue One, all the lead characters died one by one. The final act was emotional and its portrayal of Rebel Alliance struggling the Empire was quite realistic. I mean, of course it is to be expected that stealing the plans of the Death Star in an Empire stronghold would be near-impossible and would result in many deaths.

Rogue One is an incredible film, with its fast-paced and intense action, its unique storyline, and its very interesting characters. A few other things I loved: C3PO and R2D2 had a very short scene and C3PO had one line - I guess this means that Anthony Daniels continues to be the only actor who has appeared in all Star Wars films and said at least one line. (Darth Vader is in all of them too but he is portrayed by different actors). I loved seeing the AT-ATs and the AT-STs again. It was also cool that the film continues the legacy of throwing in the popular line somewhere in the script: I have a bad feeling about this. As I have already said, this is definitely one of my favorite movies this year and I may just watch it again when its theatrical run resumes after the Metro Manila Film Festival. I also can't wait to get the DVD.

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