Sunday, January 08, 2017

Rogue One and La La Land

I haven't had a chance to post about recent movies, so here's my view on a couple.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Rogue One is the first movie set in the Star Wars universe that's not part of the three-trilogy structure envisioned by George Lucas in the seventies. As such, it doesn't deal with lightsabers and Jedi and the elite of the rebel alliance in the days before Luke left Tatooine, but the grunts, specifically the group that stole the plans to the Death Star right before Star Wars: A New Hope. It features what are easily the most realistic battle scenes in all the movies.

I've only seen it once so far, but I think Rogue One might be the best Star Wars movie since The Empire Strikes Back and the third best overall. The biggest issue with it is the lack of deep characterization which leaves most of the characters flat (a big flaw). But the action is great, the story is interesting, and they did an amazing job fitting it into the timeline with a good number of callbacks to A New Hope. I enjoyed it.

We're going to see it again soon, so maybe my initial assessment will change. Certainly, over the last year The Force Awakens has lost a lot of its luster to me. I hope Rogue One holds up.

La La Land

This Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling musical is both a tribute to old Hollywood musicals and an elevation of the art form to the next level. There's a lot to love here, including great performances from both leads, wonderful songs and choreography and the L.A. setting, including some places we visited when we vacationed there. The opening number, presumably filmed in one long shot, was incredible. But it wasn't until a later song and dance between Stone and Gosling, filmed to look just like a traditional Hollywood soundstage musical duet, that the film completely won me over.

Go see it.

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