BREAKING: Carrie Fisher has Passed Away

It is truly a sad day for Star Wars community. After a serious heart attack 4 days ago, Carrie Fisher unfortunately wasn’t able to bounce back and has lost her final battle. Beloved Princess Leia leaves armies of grieving fans all around the globe as we unite in mourning one of our favourite celebrities.
Carrie Fisher is outlived by her mother Debbie Reynolds (84) and daughter Billie Lourd (24) as reported by Daily Mail.

So, it seems 2016 has claimed another celebrity way before her time. Carrie Fisher was 60 at the time of her death.

Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia, photo: Wikipedia
Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia, photo: Wikipedia

Princess, we will never forget you.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Full Review

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Well, better late than never. Below is my Rogue One: A Star Wars Story full review. In case you still need to see it, please note, this text is absolutely PACKED WITH SPOILERS!

When you walk out of the movie theatre after watching Rogue One, chances are you will be hyped up upon seeing an exciting action film. When the dust settles, you might look back on it and find quite a few things wrong, but whether or not it will ruin the film for you depends largely on what kind of a movie goer are you.
Star Wars franchise is such a grandiose movie project, it is under threat of collapsing in on itself. All of the franchise projects have very high financial goals set upon them which puts a heavy burden on those making the film. On one hand, you must appeal to very wide global population and on another you have this rich universe that offers incredible potential for great stories. So, how do you deal with it?

photo Flickr
photo Flickr

Rogue one went for a different tone to what we are used to from most of franchise films and definitely different from The Force Awakens. It is much more bleak and humourless than the Episode 7 and many will not like that. I personally loved it and would do away with even more funny shenanigans from the resident comedic break – K-2SO. Humour that was crowbarred into The Force Awakens was the worst part of that film in my book (along with a very safe reboot-like story). Rogue one doesn’t fear being dark and it doesn’t bother me one bit, even with a pretty boring colour palette for much of the film.

Director Gareth Edwards is no stranger to darkly coloured films having made a name for himself through Monsters and Godzilla (2014), and he is definitely not a stranger to well produced action scenes. Action scenes in Rogue One are very nicely done and the battle at the end of the movie is nothing short of spectacular. Other fights and battles are also good, but one things struck me while I was watching them: there is a really big Stormtrooper body count. Nothing too shocking surely, but if we think back on The Force Awakens and the fact character of Finn managed to put a very human face on the white armoured soldiers, the violence at times comes off as excessive. Still, as an action film, Rogue One definitely works.

The main problems of the film hit us when the guns are silent. There is something to be desired when it comes to character building in this film. Perhaps there was a conscious effort to not make the main characters too loveable seeing how (just to remind you… SPOILERS) they will all die at the end and that could make the kids cry, but it seems such a shame leaving the story and its main protagonists as flat as they were. The fact there are many moments from the trailer that are not featured in the film suggests there was some serious re-shooting done during the summer (we already reported on it) and this probably added to the inconsistencies in character development. Re-shoots can be a big problem when trying to put together a decent story, just remember what Suicide Squad looked like by the time it was released. In Rogue One there was many poorly executed characters and relations. Relationship between Jyn Erso and her father wasn’t well introduced, character of Saw Guerrera was barely in the film although it was played by arguably the best actor in Rogue One – Forest Whitaker, there is an attempt at a meaningful connection between the characters of Jyn and Cassian, but it falls flat, and so on… this is bound to make many serious critics will give the film lower grades than what Star Wars fans would like. Still, it is a real problem of the movie. Even some acting performances seemed under par, like Ben Mendelsohn as Orson Krennic, Diego Luna as Cassian Ando (although his character seemed seriously underwritten) and surprisingly, Mads Mikkelsen as Galen Erso. Star Wars movies are a brand of their own and never rely on big acting names to boost their appeal with audiences, which is ok because they also give young or less known actors a chance to shine in a huge blockbuster, but it doesn’t always work. Imagine if the role of Orson Krennic was played for example by Christoph Waltz. He could’ve done wonders with the character.

Visual effects in the film are excellent and the whole thing looks amazing, which is what we have come to expect from Star Wars, but that doesn’t make it any less impressive. One cgi effect on everyone’s lips is without a doubt the appearance of Grand Moff Tarkin – character featured in A New Hope, originally played by now deceased Peter Cushing. Famous British actor not only played the character well, but produced one of the most memorable Imperial bad guys in the series. So, Lucasfilm decided to do a cgi version of him in Rogue One. I dislike the idea of cgi bot instead of a real live actor, especially when trying to simulate a talented actor like Cushing, but I was still very curious about what the end product will look like. The fact is Grand Moff Tarkin looks very good when not talking, but for some reason there are quite a few close ups of this cgi person talking to the camera and it just looks a bit… well fake. With some creative camera work, this could’ve been done much better. However, the really story here is not how well this character was executed, but whether this marks a new trend in movie making where the studios will be able to revive actors from other eras or even one day save money if cgi people become cheaper to make than real actors. I don’t know, but it doesn’t seem like a very good development in the world of film.

Last thing on my list to talk about is fan service. There is much of it in Rogue One, but thankfully not as much as in The Force Awakens. Some of it I like (being a Star Wars fan), some I dislike and find borderline offensive – like R2-D2 and C-3PO scene. Even Darth Vader seems like an unnecessary addition to the film. Vader sells tickets and we are all aware of it, but his fight scene felt out of place and so does the scene in his headquarters which for some reason seems to be in Mordor. Some new Stormtrooper units and vehicles are seen in the film and as much as I’m aware they are there to sell toys, I still like seeing them. Sue me.

photo Sciencefiction.com
photo Sciencefiction.com

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is a good movie. Tone is very interesting, action scenes are some of the best in the franchise, there are were some very cool characters in the story. If I could change something it would be character development which needed to be better, and perhaps toned down on fan service a bit. When it comes to my recommendations… I would like to remind you of the thing from the beginning of this review – it all depends what kind of a movie goer you are. Star Wars fanboy in me was very excited to see this film, but the serious movie buff portion of my personality resented some parts of it. It’s all about expectations. If you are looking for a good action movie with not much substance to the story, you will most likely enjoy Rogue One. If you have been living under a rock since Empire Strikes Back and are expecting a serious human struggle drama, I suggest you remind yourself which company owns Lucasfilm since recently.

I give it 7/10

PS – too bad we will not get to see more of Felicity Jones

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SPOILER FREE REVIEW: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

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Finally, the wait is over, the vale has been lifted and we have had a chance to enjoy the most anticipated movie of this year! We here at Star Wars Dubrovnik will bring you the full, spoiler loaded review in a few days when most of you have already seen the movie, but for now, here’s a teaser review for all of you who are still about to see it. Again, this is a completely spoiler free text except for my own subjective experience of the movie’s quality and hints about the main positives and negatives.

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First thing’s first, let me get my fan boy raving out of the way and tell you to go and see this movie! Whether you will enjoy it or not, whether you are a fan of the franchise or not, you really want to see this movie. (nobody is paying me to say this btw)

Ever since the Dubrovnik filming of Star Wars Episode 8 this winter, we here in southern Croatia have been on needles and pins about where the franchise will go next and how it will develop. With the new ownership of the franchise, the entertainment giant Disney was always going to be a guarantee for Star Wars universe longevity and spectacular visuals… but with the financial goals now raised sky high, will it ever again be possible to make great quality Star Wars films from a dramatic point of view? Rogue One is a very important movie when it comes to answering this question because 1) it is the first of many spin-off movies to come, and 2) it does not have the burden of all the old characters from the original trilogy that are expected to be featured – like The Force Awakens did.

So, what did the makers of Rogue One accomplish? In my opinion, they have definitely made a standalone film with enough familiar visuals and characters and not too much fan service (I am looking at you The Force Awakens). This was a difficult task, but it seems Lucasfilm people do have their finger on the pulse of the fan base as I have the feeling there was plenty on the screen to keep us coming back for more as we dissect all the parts of the story, characters, and especially technology… as we do. The visuals are excellent and the right proportion of cgi vs. practical effects exists. This was a problem for some of the past films, you all know which ones I’m referring to, but with TFA and now Rogue One it seems those times are behind us. I would say Rogue One is the best looking Star Wars film to date. There is one cgi related thing in the movie that could prove ground breaking and I won’t tell you what, but you will know when you see it. Exciting stuff.

Acting was very good, but not without problems. Let’s just say not all of the actors were up to par or very well chosen for their roles… this is impossible to get into without spoilers, so I will devote more attention to it in the full review.

Rogue One Poster - photo StarWars.com Rogue One Poster – photo StarWars.com[/caption]

Characters were mostly well developed and well written. There was a bit less humour on screen than The Force Awakens and I’m for one very grateful for this, because the story really didn’t call for it. In TFA some of the meant-to-be-funny Harisson Ford lines (but not just his) fell very flat and detracted from the pacing and the story development.

Music was very good and in keeping with the tradition set by the great John Williams… it is not THAT good though. Sound effects were excellent.

The movie was shown in 3D which I generally dislike, but it made sense and added to the movie watching experience without a doubt.

Running time of just under 2hrs and 15mins was a good measure making the movie feel substantial, but by no means tiring.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. It’s a great film, not without its flaws, but it definitely represents an interesting and positive direction in which to take the franchise, and one that will not only keep the masses buying tickets, but also keep more serious movie buffs from dismissing these films as action videos with no soul or integrity.
Keep an eye out for the full review this weekend.
MTFBWY

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