Monday, December 19, 2016

Did Rogue One Live Up to the Hype?

This week Spacefreighters Lounge Goes Rogue. We'll be discussing our thoughts on the latest Star Wars installment while keeping our comments as spoiler-free as possible for those who haven't yet seen the film. I'm kicking it off today with my take on Rogue One, to be followed by Pippa, Sharon and Greta. On Friday, we'll have bestselling Sci-Fi Romance author, S.E. Smith, so be sure to stop back throughout the week.

Wow. Where do I even begin?

I saw the non-3D RPX version on Friday night. I've been trying to sort out my feelings ever since.

Rogue One was the deepest...darkest...most conflicted Star Wars installment to date. Did it live up to the hype? To quote an old Jedi master: "Difficult to say." It certainly did in many surprising ways, yet it was a very different movie from what I was expecting. Let me try to flesh that out a little without giving away too much about the actual story.

The original Star Wars movie (which later became Episode 3: A New Hope) hinted that obtaining the plans to the Death Star had been a great struggle. This film is the embodiment of that struggle. After seeing it, you'll understand at a soul-deep level what the risks and the stakes were, and it could get very personal for you.

This mission will no longer be just a footnote in the overarching Star Wars saga. It will be real, it will be raw, and it will pack a punch.

Oh, the anticipation! I'd been looking forward seeing this movie with much glee since viewing the very first trailer, almost a year ago. I've watched each subsequent trailer and read all the non-spoiler reviews I could find. Each time I got more visuals on the film, I thought, "Oh, yes. Rogue One is going to be just awesome." I wasn't prepared for what this story really was going to be. And I'm still in shock almost 20 hours after the film ended.

So, yes. Brace yourself.

In fact, maybe it would be best just to tell you what NOT to expect:

-- Don't expect any of the zany, cutesie characters some of the other installments are known for, and although there are many moments of well-timed and often surprising humor and levity--let there be no mistake. It's dark. Is it for kids? That depends on the kid. It may not be suitable for sensitive children under the age of 8-10. Heck, to be honest, it may not be suitable for sensitive viewers of any age.

-- On the timeline, this story takes place just before the start of Luke Skywalker's adventure, so there will be no Rey, Finn, Kylo Ren or Poe Dameron. They won't be born for a decade or two.

-- But that's not to say there will be no returning characters. Prepare to applaud and cheer. Prepare not to.

-- Likewise, there's no Millennium Falcon in this one (or at least, I didn't catch a glimpse of the ship even in the distant background).

-- The story centers on a heroine who's not a queen, a princess, a senator, a Skywalker or a Jedi-to-be. She's a...well...she's a thug. With good reason, but yes. Thug. They broke the mold with Jyn.

-- Don't expect a hero like any in the Star Wars franchise to date. While he may shoot first--or last--Captain Cassian Andor is from a very different universe far, far away than the heroes you've known.

-- There is no black and white. Yin and yang. Light and dark side. There is only do. Or do not.

A few random thoughts on viewing Rogue One:

I found the opening to be a little jarring after the familiar "Long ago in a galaxy far, far away..." statement, but then...bam! The composer definitely wanted the audience to know this is no typical Star Wars tale. The music was in-your-face and a little dissonant. Fitting, that.

One of my favorite characters overall wasn't human. The droid K-2SO is no little comedic sidekick, he's a big, bad, no-nonsense, lethal and decisive hunk of statistic-spouting tech with a healthy slate of one-liners. Voiced by the amazing Alan Tudyk, probably best known as the wisecracking pilot from the Firefly franchise, who lent not only his excellent articulation but true heart to the performance.

Most of the other supporting characters were compelling and relatable, with one notable exception--a sort of "mad monk" type. To be fair, that may be my issue more than the film's shortcoming. Possibly the importance of this character to the plot or emotional development of the story just evaded me. But like I said, I'm still mulling.

This film probably had the most diverse settings--and weather--of any of the films yet. Many different planets, some Mars-like, some tropical, some stormy, some with eye-opening imagery and others with heart-pounding spectacles. Star Wars has always set the bar on space imagery, and this film is no exception.

A couple of the scenes carried an eerie familiarity, almost like I'd been there before, you know? And I couldn't help it. In one of the X-wing battle scenes, I kept expecting to hear a young pilot report: "Red Five, standing by." Heh.

So did Rogue One live up to the hype? Was the Force strong in this one? I don't honestly know how to answer that except to say...

Go see it. Then you decide.


  1. Nice review, Laurie. I won't say much, since I get my turn on Thursday - except to say I don't agree on every point. :) But certainly it's a film worth seeing. I love the way these extra offerings are rounding out the SW universe.

  2. Thanks, Greta! I'm sure we'll have a variety of opinions, which adds to the fun. I think Rogue One could hold so many different meanings for so many people. And yes, a saga this expansive shouldn't be linear. There could be many amazing side-adventures to build on the entire epic. Looking forward to it.


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