Thursday, December 22, 2016

12 Days of Christmas Movie Review: Rogue One

Of course, we jumped in the Rogue One bandwagon.

We are fans of Donnie Yen so the hubby and our kids were all excited to see him in a Star Wars movie. Diego Luna plays a lead character and that doubled my joy. We aren't die hard fans of the Star Wars soap opera, but we pretty much know its canon and we all have our favorite characters, big or small, in the saga. Besides, the entire franchise bridged our generation with our children's which makes watching Rogue One a family experience.

So, my review.

What worked

The romantic angle between Cassian Andor and Jyn Erso that was not fully explained nor articulated is evident from their first meeting till their tight embrace at the beach. It left me with a big WHY. Why didn't they live happily ever after? A classic love story that pales in comparison to Ankin and Amidala of the prequels. No, they do not need words to cement their feelings for one another. It is enough that their trust for each other finally came through when Jyn told Cassian that she is not used to having a person stay with her. Then he replied, "Welcome home". It trumps Han and Leia's I Love You/I know exchange in Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.

Cassian, as portrayed by Diego Luna may not be the alpha male in Rogue One, but his eyes, oh, his eyes when he looks at her speak voluminously of his commitment to the rebellion and his awe to have found her at a time when his life seemed nothing but a series of cat and mouse chases. The way Cassian looks at her, especially during that elevator ride, is full of tenderness, admiration and wonder. There is also a glimpse of sadness and regret when they shared that moment of silence in the elevator, just looking at each other. It was a fleeting moment of intimacy. In a movie where so many things are happening at the same time, this quiet space between the two leads is a beautifully captured scene.

The friendship and brotherhood of Chirrut Imwe and Baze Malbus is one for the books. No Jedi in this Star Wars movie, but the heart and spirituality of the Force were made stronger through Donnie Yen's warrior monk and Jiang Wen's gun trotting non-believer.

K-2SO is the best droid, so far. His dry humor and candor matches the dark themes and the character's complicated turn from misfits to heroes.

What did not

Indeed, the characters in Rogue One are heroes worth rooting for despite their flaws. Even the villains are layered with emotional baggage to portray their inner most desires and motives. However, I felt that they were all used as pawns to the original trilogy's purpose for being. Sayang. Rogue One provided the context for Episodes 4, 5 and 6 reminding us that lives were sacrificed to achieve freedom from the Galactic Empire. I did like the movie's texture and editing, the play of lights and shadows, as well as the rendition of the lead characters' deaths. But, heroic the end may be, I ask myself to this day, is Rogue One necessary to expand the Star Wars universe in the first place?

Rating: 3.5

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