The House of David

"dawnbreak in the west"

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Why Rogue won

This weekend's upcoming releases are awful, so The Federalist is suggesting to catch the tail end of Guy Ritchie's Arthur. Personally, last weekend I'd raided the library for Rogue One.

I wasn't going to pay for this. The Right side of the 'web told me that here was another multicultural cast backing up British Mary Sue in a fight against the white man. One Right column (I forget whose) noted that this movie may well have been intended to back President Hillary in an intervention on Qaeda's side of the Syrian war. The trailers did little to disabuse me of any of this: I rebel. Then the reviews came out and pointed out that it was incomplete on a story-structure level: too many internally-bickering villains, without a clear Big Bad; the Death Star isn't destroyed; the Force isn't explained. We're not given much to go on with character backstory, even Jyn's. Also the characters don't interact much.

I agree with most of this. But I'll point out that the narrative of the first Star Wars is incomplete as well: this, too, has Darth Vader and Moff Tarkin, and we're never sure who is giving the orders. Sure, there's an Emperor somewhere. But Tarkin seems to be running the military on his own and maybe making a play for the purple himself. Darth is a "Lord of the Sith" but we're not even told that order's agenda; Tarkin may or may not be "holding his leash" but Vader acts like it's pretence on his own part. And the Emperor is probably not on the Death Star anyway; he's interacting with a Senate far from the outer Rim planets. So when the Death Star is destroyed, the Empire isn't. In fact the Emperor and the Sith both are now in firmer control of their own (weakened) military. So you can see, in 1977, why we had to have another movie.

As for Rogue One I am told that it was edited harshly in postproduction. Some of this shows. We have one scene where Jyn kicks the ass of a whole platoon of Stormtroopers. Based on how she behaves for most of the movie, this scene doesn't fit - at all. (Kind of like the Owl's and the Specter's super-heroics in Watchmen.) The camera often cuts to Jyn gazing off to the upper left of the camera: sometimes in worry, sometimes in arrogance. It's as if one movie wanted her to be Kick Ass Warrior Woman and another movie had a character-arc, and the second movie absorbed the first in gestation like a hungry twin foetus. And the digestion didn't come to completion: there should have been a better explanation of the Force and, also, more banter between Jyn and (especially) Cassian. Perhaps Jyn and Cassian did have more lines together; but they were lines from the Mary-Sue edition of the movie, which lines had to be scrapped.

I guess what made Rogue One work is that the second movie, which is the movie this movie almost became, was a good one. It was original where The Force Awakens was not; it offered likeable characters (despite itself) where I viscerally hated everyone involved in TFA to the point I audibly cheered when Ren permanently grounded Harrison Ford.

Oh, and dat Vader doe.

UPDATE 9/25: Thermidor! Thank you Duckduckgo.

posted by Zimri on 17:46 | link | 0 comments

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