Saturday, December 17, 2016
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story 
CNS/USCCB (J. Mulderig) review
Los Angeles Times (J. Chang) review
RogerEbert.com (M. Zoller Seitz) review
AVClub (I. Vishnevetsky) review
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story  (directed by Gareth Edwards, screenplay by Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy, story by John Knoll and Gary Whitta, based on the characters created by George Lucas) _promised_ "A Star Wars Story" OF A DIFFERENT KIND. And even respecting the general arc of the Original Story, the possibilities were grand. George Lucas' franchise had, after all, created a literally an entire Universe, er "Galaxy" of potential stories. Did it succeed? IMHO, yes and no.
Yes, the current story is notably darker (perhaps post 9/11, post-Hunger Games [2012-2015] darker) than the original Star Wars Trilogy (Episodes IV-VI) [1977-1983] which if placed in the arc of the Overall Star Wars Saga it immediately predates. In the current story, the Empire was clearly Dominant, its Opposition still reeling, splintered, disorganized. To put the Opposition down forever, the Empire was just building The Death Star, a fearsome weapon of truly Massive Destruction. A defector from the project (played by Riz Ahmed) described it to still uncomprehending members of said disorganized Rebel Alliance as "A Planet Killer." Only when a city near one of the bases of the Rebel Alliance was destroyed by it in a tsunami of earth and molten lava (the special effects here and throughout are simply outstanding) did both Rebel Leaders like Saw Gerrera (played by Forest Whitaker), the leader of a radical splinter group in the Opposition as well as several "smaller people" like Jyn Erso (played wonderfully by Felicity Jones) and Cassian Andor (played by Diego Luna) come to appreciate what was at stake.
What to do? How to respond? Well that's the rest of the movie ...
MY disappointment (somewhat) as I watched the current film was that it still ADHERES TOO CLOSELY to the OVERALL ARC OF THE ORIGINAL STORY. Here was a GALAXY OF POSSIBILITY for _original storytelling_, and THIS STORY STILL CHOSE TO PUT ITS FOCUS ON "THE DEATH STAR." I would have been much more impressed if the current film had been simply about "a small band of rebels" coalescing / fighting the Empire at some rather far / random edge of the Galaxy, with the "Death Star" given at most passing mention or NOT EVEN AT ALL. PERHAPS the upcoming film about Han Solo  will be more of that kind of a story ...
Still, that George Lucas' Star Wars Saga has produced this kind of "anthology film" at all, is quite impressive and bodes well for future storytelling as well. I'd love to see still more done with the aforementioned Hunger Games series. How did THAT fascist-like state come about? And what of then the stories of any number of potential characters from any number of the "districts" in that story. Similarly explorations of "Middle Earth" need not end with the exhaustion Tolkien's Hobbit and LOTR trilogy. The story-telling possibilities there could be endless as well.
So over all, while I enjoyed the the current Star Wars "Anthology" film, I still believed "more could have been done" by _more boldly_ choosing to go off the already beaten path.
But I wish to end with mention of my favorite character in the current film, the blind Jedi monk Chirrut Îmwe (played by Donnie Yen). A quite alone / scattered surviving member of the then persecuted / decimated Jedi Order, when in crisis, to give him courage, he would oft repeat to himself the mantra: "I am one with the force, and the force is with me." To my Catholic / Christian ears, I hear the first line of Psalm 23: "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want ..." which in the whole Judeo-Christian Tradition has been used for millenia _for exactly the same purpose_ (to give solace and courage) as well ;-)
Overall ... good / great job!
* Reasonably good (sense) translations of non-English webpages can be found by viewing them through Google's Chrome browser.
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