Friday, December 16, 2016

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – Just Okay (All the Bad Guys Are White; Heroes All Minorities)

Here is an interesting article from reviewing some of the movies that came out over the past weekend. This follows this post about some of the movies from last week and THIS POST about some movies that have been released over the past few years that you might have missed! This all follows this post about guidelines to choosing good movies to watch yourself!

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – Just Okay (All the Bad Guys Are White; Heroes All Minorities)

By Debbie Schlussel

I saw the new Star Wars prequel, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” yesterday morning, under heavy security and lock and key. But it ain’t all that. The movie–which debuts in theaters Friday (early screenings Thursday night)–was just okay. Plus, I couldn’t help but notice a stark casting decision: all the evil Empire leaders are old White men, and all the rebel leaders and heroes are minorities (including a whiny Muslim dude) and a perpetually-miserable chick.
At some point, one would expect that people will get sick of Disney/Lucasfilm serving up what is essentially the same Star Wars movie plot over and over again with more and more politically-correct, watered-down characters. But apparently not yet, as this movie is expected to do blockbuster numbers at the box office. Still, the movie is exactly that: a watered-down rehash of the original Star Wars movie from 40 years ago, with flat, boring characters picked for their nationalities and non-White status only. The story is okay, but there’s no magic here, no excitement the way there was for Harrison Ford’s Han Solo and his suave smart-aleckiness, no naive but noble Luke Skywalker. Instead, we get New Coke . . . or probably Crystal Pepsi, because it tastes flat and it’s so clear and obvious you’re being served up an inferior imitation of the original thing. Mediocrity gets old . . . eventually. Though not in America.
Yes, there are a few characters from Star Wars movies past, including Darth Vader. I won’t reveal those familiar old faces who make cameos, but I’m not spoiling anything by telling you Vader’s in this (it’s in all of the trailers and press coverage). And at least one evil old White man from the original is back, too, courtesy of the magic of computer and digital regeneration. But the story isn’t that exciting. Been there, seen that. And it was done better the first four times, including in last year’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which I liked a lot better (read my review), despite it’s verge into political correctness. This one is over the top in that department. I mean, we’re talkin’ hitting you over the head with a two-by-four with it.
All of the generals and directors and commanders of the Empire look the same: old, White, and evil-looking. And the rebels are some Hispanics (Diego Luna and they even rehabbed Jimmy Smits from some crypt), some Asian dudes (one of them blind), some Black guys, a dour chick, and a Pakistani Muslim–Muslim-grievance-theater rapper and actor Riz Ahmed, who plays Bodhi Rook. I’m bummed there was no Egyptian transsexual vegan knitter. Would it have killed them to have even just one White male rebel hero? Or was Jedi “White privilege” used up in the first Star Wars flick? Maybe I can start a hashtag: #EvilEmpireSoWhite. Funny how the #OscarsSoWhite isn’t whining about no minorities cast for those roles.
The movie takes place before the original and after the Jar-Jar Binks fiasco set of movies. There aren’t any Jedi Knights or Kedi warriors per se, although we know that there is a Force and it is with some of the characters. Still, the Force seems to be missing most of the time, if not all of it. The characters are boring, the story is full of holes, and as I noted, it just lacks any charisma or magic. There’s no charm here. And it’s missing any kind of warmth, the kind you felt with the original Star Wars trilogy, back in the day. I guess maybe that’s the times we’re living in–a colder world.
Felicity Jones–the dullest, most overrated actress on Earth–is a dud as the heroine Jyn Erso. She looks bitter and sour all the time, and her acting is equally unremarkable and unenthusiastic. Even though, supposedly, the Force is with her (or something), it’s hard to believe that she has the chops of a male MMA fighter. But in today’s Star Wars world, everything has to be chickified (” target=”_blank”>as it was in last year’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”–again, read my review). Just how many times must Luke Skywalker be remade into a girl? She’s the daughter of the White male architect of the Death Star. But she’s been captured and joins the rebels. Plus her dad isn’t as evil is you might think. She and a band of others–again, all minorities–come together with the Rebel Alliance to steal the plans for the Death Star. That a band of rebels stole those plans, was referenced in the original Star Wars movie, and from that, the filmmakers created this movie.
There’s no Yoda here, but there are the traditional scenes of aliens in a bar, however so brief. And there’s the usual magnificent John Williams music, although the Darth Vader theme is muted and the main Star Wars theme is as well (at least until the closing credits roll). There’s also a more rudimentary droid than the shiny gold C3PO we’re used to (why do all Droids have an English accent?). The studio asked me not to provide intricate details of plot points or to give away twists and other spoilers. But, sadly, other than the cameos I alluded to above, there really aren’t any of these to give. The movie just wasn’t that suspenseful or exciting.
I didn’t hate this movie. And there is–per usual with Star Wars flicks–stark good versus evil, which I like. But I hated the PC casting. And I just wasn’t very overwhelmed (or whelmed in any way) by this movie. It’s just a churned out factory product, and nothing I’d watch again like I did with other Star Wars movies. While it’s not objectionable, it’s not that likable, either. It’s just . . . okay. Color me disappointed.
As Darth Vader might say, I find this film’s lack of imagination disturbing.
Forget the Evil Empire. I’ve met the Mediocre Empire. It’s called Disney.
BTW, I say all of this as someone who is a tremendous, life-long Star Wars fan. (Since we aren’t Trekkies, are we “Warsies”? We don’t have a term.) My late father took me to see the original when I was just seven years old. In a day when parents still cared about what their kids consumed, he went to see it first. “Kids, you have to see this great movie!” he said. When it comes to Rogue One, I can hear my dad wondering, “Is that all there is?”
Watch the trailer . . .

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