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Thursday, January 5, 2017

Spoiler-Free Rogue One Review

#Movies #Reviews #StarWars #RogueOne #SciFi #Cast #CGI #Animation #Cameos #Story #Plot #NoSpoilers

       Rogue One is the latest Star Wars movie to hit the big screens. It's a one-shot story that takes place immediately before the Original Trilogy. Starring Felicity Jones as the streetwise Jyn Erso and Diego Luna as the Rebel spy Cassian Andor, Rogue One is about the events that led to the Rebellion capturing the plans for the Death Star. It also features quite a few cameos from the Original Trilogy, including the much anticipated CGI portrayal of Governor Tarkin. Rogue One promised a lot of amazing things, but did it live up to expectations?

       The first thing that stood out about Rogue One is that it was definitely on the darker side. Other Star Wars movies tend to idealize the struggle between light and dark. If a good guy has to kill someone, it's usually a faceless Stormtrooper, a soulless droid, a slimy monster, a long-distance explosion, or a main character whose death-by-good-guy was imminent. If a situation is hopeless, there will usually be some deus ex machina by which a narrow escape can be made. In Rogue One, the good guys aren't as pure as the driven snow, and miracles aren't as common as usual.

       While some fans may have mixed feelings about Rogue One straying from tradition this way, I think it was good for the movie because it made it less predictable. Let's face it; we all know how it's going to end. We've seen A New Hope. To pull off a movie in which the ending is inevitable, you need to do something to make the journey there as interesting as possible.

       One way the newest movie in the franchise connected with its roots in the Original Trilogy was through the use of several cameos. James Earl Jones returns as the voice of Darth Vader, who plays a short but significant part in the story. Governor Tarkin, originally portrayed by the late Peter Cushing, appears in the film via the magic of CGI. His role is integral to the plot, and he gets a surprising amount of screen time. There are also a few smaller cameos peppered throughout the movie, which I won't give away. One or two may have been a little forced, but as a lover of "Easter Egg" style references, I enjoyed them.

       The most buzzed-about appearance by an Original Trilogy character had to be that of Grand Moff Tarkin. Peter Cushing, who played the iconic Star Wars villain in 1977, passed away in 1994. In Rogue One, a motion capture headset was used to record the facial expressions of actor Guy Henry. Those movements were then painstakingly applied to a CGI doppleganger of Cushing's Tarkin. In this way, they hoped to resurrect the image of the classic character long after the actor who portrayed him passed on.

       CGI animation has made great strides in recent years, but is it that good? Yes and no. It was good. Really good. It looked just like the original, but you could tell he was CGI. There's a certain way digital characters move that, sometimes, fails to trick the eye. There's not much getting around that. However, Rogue One's Tarkin was the best digital portrayal of a human that I've ever seen in a movie. He surpassed the quality of many of the aliens we've seen so far. There were even a few moments where, if I hadn't known he was digital, I would have sworn he was human. They definitely proved that CGI is a completely viable option for bringing characters back to life.

       As a standalone story, Rogue One does a great job of taking you on an adventure worthy of the franchise. Aside from connecting with other movies in obvious ways, such as making various references, the film stays true to the spirit of the Star Wars galaxy. At its core, it's still a classic story about Rebels with a cause standing up to the Evil Empire. Rogue One is definitely a must-see for any Star Wars fan.

Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this article, you may also like to check out some of my other posts. Here's what I recommend now:
Online Art Theft & You
Brain Hacks to Stay On Track with Your Diet
Star Wars The Old Republic -- Roleplayer's Survival Guide

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