Rogue haunted by Wars past

Central Otago Mirror - - CLASSIFIEDS -

For many Star Wars fans, just the men­tion of the word ‘‘pre­quel’’ is enough to send them run­ning in the op­po­site di­rec­tion.

For this rea­son, it was wise to not de­scribe Rogue One (the first stand­alone Star Wars story) as such, but un­for­tu­nately this rugged women/men-on-a-mis­sion war pic is not nearly enough of its own, dis­tinc­tive, beast. In­stead, it’s rid­dled with call-backs and overt ref­er­ences from its pre­de­ces­sors – lines of di­a­logue, recre­ated shots, and, most an­noy­ingly, too many char­ac­ters cameo-ing, some res­ur­rected from the grave or the past with very good, but still life­less, un­canny val­ley CGI.

Yes, The Force Awak­ens was a huge ex­er­cise in rep­e­ti­tion, but in ser­vice of spe­cific pur­poses – con­jur­ing emo­tive nos­tal­gia and putting au­di­ences young and old all on the same page for up­com­ing se­quels.

In con­trast, Rogue One seems to feel the need to in­ces­santly re­mind us we are watch­ing a Star Wars movie, with con­stant ref­er­ences of­ten fall­ing flat or worse, get­ting un­in­tended laughs.

Some­times, they’re de­lib­er­ately played as gags, some of which are know­ingly meta in na­ture, this wink­ing at the au­di­ence some­thing that rubbed me up the wrong way, as does a tone that some­times skews to­wards de­lib­er­ately (and there­fore un­suc­cess­fully) camp.

That these mo­ments rear their heads once every few min­utes is a colos­sal bum­mer, as it dis­tracts from the many ex­cel­lent as­pects of the film – the im­pact of its open­ing and clos­ing se­quences, the spec­tac­u­lar bat­tles of its third act, and Star Wars’ lat­est great droid, K-2SO, who’s one-part C3-PO, onepart The Hitch­hik­ers’ Guide to the Gal­axy‘ s Marvin, the Para­noid An­droid.

Else­where, you’ll find Ben Men­del­sohn vil­lain-ing up a storm in a role he was born to play, and Don­nie Yen’s mys­ti­cal calm en­liven­ing many a fight scene.

Sadly, that Felic­ity Jones isn’t a stand­out as Rogue One‘ s lead – though she’s con­vinc­ing and com­pe­tent – speaks to how more ef­fort seems to have been spent on fan ser­vice than char­ac­ter devel­op­ment or re­ally get­ting stuck in to telling the tragic story of a new band of broth­ers and sis­ters that I was re­ally hop­ing for.

Rogue One seems to feel the need to in­ces­santly re­mind us we are watch­ing a Star Wars movie.

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