Movie Review: Rogue One, directed by Gareth Edwards (Five Stars)

rogue_one2c_a_star_wars_story_poster

Theatrical Release Poster

(Expanded December 17, 2016)

Movie Review: Rogue One, directed by Gareth Edwards

Five Stars

The Dirty Dozen long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away.

Good job. Good independent story with good tie-ins to Star Wars series. Almost anything I say will be a spoiler. Don’t read any synopses.

Loved the atmospheric quality of scenes set on planetary surfaces.

Caveat: This is a combat movie. The intensity of some scenes would be inappropriate for children, even/especially those who have seen other Star Wars movies and think it’s more of the same.

Inevitably, we compare it with both The Force Awakens and the six Star Wars movies. In summary, it’s different; it’s better. For loyal Star Wars fans it has many hooks to the greater story, especially to The New Hope (Episode Four, the original movie), as it grew from a line in the opening scroll of that movie. It’s also its own movie, with its own, though related music, book ends, and tone. It’s still set in that galaxy struggling between good and evil.

Part of what make this movie and most Star Wars stories connect to viewers is that they feel real. They take the viewer into the epic struggle each of us has with his own life. They are stories of dreams, challenge, self-sacrifice and redemption. They touch something deep inside us. Something not satisfied with the flash and cynicism of most Hollywood offerings. It’s not that these stories are true, but that they resonate with the truth in each of us.

History, Economics and Fiction

Really effective literature takes you so deeply into the story that you don’t know or care that it’s fiction.

Max Gladstone‘s recent blog article, Jedi Econ, Sith History, makes that point in a thought-provoking way.

We, as readers, are partly forced to view the author’s world through the lens he used: sometimes as close as inside the protagonist’s head–knowing no more (and often quite a bit less than that protag). Older novels were written much like histories–James Michner‘s tomes spring to mind. His Hawaii and Alaska started with plate tectonics and Centennial with dinosaurs.

It helps, of course, if we understand and agree with the author’s world view, but sometimes the fun lies in an “unreliable narrator” who intentionally or not lies–perhaps to both himself and to the reader.

For avid readers of a genre, author or period, this immersion becomes problematic when the reader thinks she know more than the author, or feels that subsequent authors have betrayed the history, economics, religion, world force or what-have-you of the fictional world.

Which brings us back to Star Wars. In addition to the issues so ably discussed by Gladstone, the Star Wars galaxy is in danger of fracturing into several parallel universes. The “canon” laid down in the six (or three, depending on who you talk to) morphs into the “extended Star Wars universe” chronicled and dozens of books by a variety of authors. The Clone Wars TV series overwrites some of the extended universe with a different story. And the coming SW episodes VII, VIII and IX promise further muddy the water. (Not to mention Disney Inc.‘s demonstrated tendency to merchandise the daylights out of whatever they produce. Such as: we can count on there being a princess in the new series.)

My opinion? It’s all for the better. “Let a hundred flowers bloom; let a hundred schools of thought contend.”

“May the Force be with you.”

 

The Evil Empire Strikes Back by Michael Ramirez

It’s hard not to see the current situation as a classic.

The Evil Empire Strikes Back by Ramirez

Putin’s plan to “federalize” Ukraine would make each province autonomous, effectively dismembering the country, and making it easier for Russia to shallow. (How we we take a proposal to recognize each of our states separately, and absorbing those which could be bullied or invaded into joining some other country.?) Europe and America may not be able to stop Putin, but we should not agree.