Crit­ics take sabres to Star Wars 'Rogue One'

Kuwait Times - - LIFESTYLE -

Thou­sands of fans fi­nally got to see the new Star Wars spin-off film yes­ter­day as it opened across Europe, di­vid­ing crit­ics. "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" has al­ready notched up the high­est first day pre-sales ever in the United States fol­low­ing last year's record-break­ing "The Force Awak­ens". But there was less en­thu­si­asm on the other side of the At­lantic with the first screen­ings in Paris only three-quar­ters full.

And sev­eral crit­ics took their light sabres to the plot with the French daily Lib­er­a­tion brand­ing it "stut­ter­ingly cos­mic" and The New York Times call­ing it a "thor­oughly medi­ocre movie" that mil­lions would sit through "and con­vince them­selves that it's per­fectly de­light­ful". But Swe­den's Sven­ska Dag­bladet daily was won over, declar­ing that "de­spite some forced di­a­logue and weary­ing back and forths... 'Rogue One' is two hours and 13 min­utes of hugely en­ter­tain­ing space ac­tion."

Not that the faith­ful were put off. Parisian prod­uct man­ager Cather­ine Jo­livet, 35, who has grown up with the saga, said she was cheered by the fact that "fe­male char­ac­ters have be­come so im­por­tant" as she queued up for her ticket. Just like "The Force Awak­ens", the grit­tier "Rogue One" has a fe­male lead, with Felic­ity Jones star­ring as in­ter­ga­lac­tic bad girl Jyn Erso, re­cruited by the Rebel Al­liance to de­stroy the Death Star, a planet-sized weapon of mass de­struc­tion.

In a typ­i­cal Star Wars Oedi­pal twist, her fa­ther Galen, played by Mads Mikkelsen, is none other than the bril­liant sci­en­tist gone bad who has de­signed the Death Star. The story, about a mav­er­ick rebel force who mount an al­most suicide mis­sion to steal the plans for the im­pe­rial Death Star, is set just be­fore the very first Star Wars epic, "A New Hope".

Al­though it has only fleet­ing though spec­tac­u­lar ap­pear­ances by Darth Vader and Princess Leia from the beloved 1977 movie, it has all the fa­mil­iar in­gre­di­ents in­clud­ing Stormtroop­ers, X-wing fight­ers and a cute ro­bot char­ac­ter. Nor has the hype quite reached the same pitch as last year's "The Force Awak­ens"-which came a decade af­ter the end of the last Star Wars tril­ogy.

Huge box of­fice

"The Force Awak­ens" helped Dis­ney to record $5 bil­lion (4.7 bil­lion eu­ros) box of­fice tak­ings last year, and the stu­dio has left noth­ing to chance as it rolled out the new film Wed­nes­day across France, Bel­gium, Switzer­land, The Nether­lands and Scan­di­navia. Au­di­ences in North Amer­ica will have to wait un­til Fri­day, while those in Bri­tain and most of Asia will get to see it a day ear­lier. It will not open in China un­til Jan­uary 12.

The stu­dio has gone to ex­tra­or­di­nary lengths to make sure no de­tails of the plot have leaked out be­yond the two trail­ers it posted in the run-up to the release. Di­rected by the Bri­tish­born maker of "Godzilla" Gareth Edwards, the movie is more of a war film than pre­vi­ous ad­ven­tures with one se­quence seen as a nod to Fran­cis Ford Cop­pola's 1979 classic "Apoca­lypse Now".

Pun­dits ex­pect "Rogue One" to open at $130-$150 mil­lion, some way be­hind the $248 mil­lion de­but week­end for "The Force Awak­ens" and end up with a fi­nal global to­tal of around $1.4 bil­lion. The spin-off is part of an at­tempt to re­vi­tal­ize the fran­chise since Dis­ney bought Lucasfilm in 2012 when it was still reel­ing from grim re­views for the pre­quel tril­ogy. The idea is to bring out a se­quel tril­ogy with a movie ev­ery other yearstart­ing with "The Force Awak­ens" in 2015 -- and in­ter­sperse those re­leases with an "an­thol­ogy tril­ogy" of one-off, stand­alone movies like "Rogue One". — AFP

A scene from, ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’.

This im­age re­leased by Lucasfilm Ltd shows Felic­ity Jones as Jyn Erso in a scene from, "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story." — AP photos

Diego Luna as Cas­sian An­dor

Bri­tish au­thor JK Rowl­ing

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